Bailes points to a University of Oklahoma study in which accelerometers were placed in the helmets of Sooner players.
Accelerometers help measure G-Force. Studies have shown that fighter pilots can black out after feeling five Gs of force over 20 seconds. Yet NFL collisions — while they last only milliseconds — can impart close to 100 Gs of force. And linemen, Bailes points out, are “probably getting 20 to 30 g’s to their helmets on every play when they clash.”
And the damaging hits don’t even have to be delivered to the head.
“You can have padding on the head a foot thick and it wouldn’t matter,” Bailes said. “You’ve got a brain suspended in cerebral spinal fluid. When your cranium suddenly stops whether by somebody hitting your head or hitting you somewhere else to change your direction with force, your brain continues forward. It hits your skull then bounces back and hits the other side of the skull. But it’s not only the damage of your brain striking the bone of the skull but there’s a micro-vacuum at the capillary level that is caused microscopic damage.
“So many of these injuries are rotational,” Bailes explains. “It’s not just your head hitting something but the rotation and the shearing that continues. Helmets and mouthpieces are important but there’s been an overemphasis and a false sense of security placed in helmets. You absolutely need to have the best you can but there is more to it than head protection.”
Bailes, who — along with Omalu — hopes to have increasingly positive dialogue with the NFL, says there are some steps that the league should consider instituting.
The landscape described in Laskas’ GQ article indicates there’s a long way to go before the NFL is ready to fully embrace the work of people like Bennet Omalu and Dr. Julian Bailes. But they are, Bailes said, increasingly willing to listen.
“I’m optimistic that they are going to continue to pursue this issue,” said Bailes. “I hope that they are coming to grips with reality that CTE and the potential for long-term effects is real. And I’m optimistic that they have many good people involved and that they will continue to look at all aspects of how concussion management and prevention can be improved.”
CSN: Brian Urlacher, who played 13 seasons for the Bears, announced his retirement from football Wenesday on his personal twitter account.
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