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“We have our blooper reel in our head, and everyone else’s highlight reel in the palm of our hands.”

Post by greybeard58 » Fri Jun 12, 2020 7:55 pm

“We have our blooper reel in our head, and everyone else’s highlight reel in the palm of our hands.”

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please know that you are not alone. If you are in danger of acting on suicidal thoughts, call 911. For support and resources, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741-741 for the Crisis Text Line.

Throughout the summer of 2012, Tylor Morgan would call his sister Lacey at night and beg her to come over and sit with him.

It wasn’t obvious why Tylor felt so depressed. Growing up in Pocatello, Idaho, Lacey and Tylor had a fairly happy childhood. Tylor was shy, with lily-white hair and blue eyes. He retreated to the background while their charismatic older brother, Mark, drew the limelight. Their parents had divorced and remarried, but the siblings stayed close. Recitals were attended and mountains explored. Tylor was “pretty much a normal kid,” Lacey, who is now 26, told me.

Tylor graduated high school in 2007, right before the Great Recession. But even that initially seemed okay; he liked to work. As a young man, he managed stores and fast-food restaurants around Pocatello. In his free time, he would tinker with his pickup truck or ride motorcycles.

The only troubling thing Lacey noticed was that Tylor had been drinking a lot. Occasionally, he would get drunk and tell Lacey that he was in pain, and he wanted it to stop. The air felt heavier around him. He would get upset about girls, or not having a good enough job, or not making enough money. The exact problem wasn’t always clear. A few times, Lacey sat with him in the hospital, where he was staying the night because his blood-alcohol level was teetering on deadly.

Then, that May, Mark died at 25 in what was ruled a suicide. His brother’s death left Tylor awash in guilt and horror. The brothers had argued the night of Mark’s death, and Tylor blamed himself.

One night three months later, Tylor called Lacey again and asked her to come over. Lacey couldn’t go that night—she can’t remember precisely why—but she promised to see him in the morning. “I need you to just wait until tomorrow,” she told him.

Minutes after they hung up, Tylor called the police and reported a suicide at his house. Then he picked up his gun and pulled the trigger. He was 23.

Tylor’s and Mark’s deaths became two of a growing number of suicides among Millennials. Though they might seem in the prime of their life, recent research shows that Millennials—people born from roughly 1981 to 1996—are more likely to die prematurely from suicide and drug overdoses than previous generations were.

Perhaps that’s to be expected, given the turmoil Millennials have faced in recent years. After scrambling up a slippery career ladder during the Great Recession, Millennials were slammed with the opioid epidemic. Billions of narcotic pills were shipped to parts of the U.S. where people had few opportunities, but plenty of pain.

Now even more challenges loom over young people. Many Millennials who had their careers crippled by the 2008 recession are being flung into yet another economic downturn, just as they’re supposed to be hitting their career peak. Because of social-distancing restrictions meant to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, young people who hoped to find a partner haven’t been able to date in person for months. And still more outbreaks of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, might occur this year. As David Grusky, the director of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, put it to me, Millennials are “the bad-luck cohort.”

Interviews with more than a dozen experts on suicide and mental health reveal that Millennials are financially and generally stressed, and it’s driving some of them to extremes. Older Millennials snapped into adulthood after 9/11, fought in two wars, entered the job market during a recession, and are now weathering a global pandemic in overpriced one-bedroom apartments. They’ve experienced slower economic growth than any other generation in U.S. history, according to a Washington Post analysis. And having been clobbered by the last recession, they’re about to get clobbered again.

In a report published last year by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, economists Mark Duggan and Jackie Li found that mortality rates for people from ages 25 to 34 had risen by more than 20 percent since 2008. “That is, mortality rates among millennials ages 20 to 34 were substantially higher in 2016 than among their counterparts from Generation X when they were [their age] exactly 16 years earlier,” they write. The main contributors to the increase have been suicides and drug overdoses, and the increase was highest among white people.

Another report from the Trust for America’s Health last year found that drug-related deaths among people ages 18 to 34 more than doubled from 2007 to 2017, while alcohol-related deaths rose by 69 percent and suicides by 35 percent.

This tendency toward premature death has been especially pronounced among Millennials who, like Tylor, never earned a college degree. In 2017, white people without a bachelor’s degree born in 1980 were four times more likely to die by suicide than those with a college degree, as Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton write in their new book, Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism. Among those without college degrees, the later you were born, the more likely you are at any given age to live in pain, binge-drink, have poor health, and die from suicide or a drug overdose. White people in their 20s and 30s are dying from alcoholic liver disease, a condition that normally takes decades of hard drinking to develop.

To be sure, the rise in Millennial suicides is set against a broader backdrop of despair: Rates of suicide are going up for all Americans, including Gen Z, the generation after Millennials. People ages 45 to 64 still have the highest overall risk of suicide.

For Millennials, the reason behind this uptick appears to be that young people with less education face more financial strain than previous generations did. The good jobs that used to be available to people without college degrees have slowly evaporated. “Jobs are a source of meaning in our lives,” says Cheryl Fulton, a professor in the counseling program at Texas State University. “So if you don't have a job or are underemployed, you’re not deriving that satisfaction that comes from the meaning and purpose a job provides.”

Rising health-care costs have encouraged employers to reduce headcounts and have eaten into employees’ salaries, Case and Deaton write. In addition, the decline in manufacturing jobs and the rise of the gig economy have driven non-college-educated young people’s wages into the ground. Millennials without a college degree are earning far less in early adulthood than previous generations did, according to another reportin the Stanford series. The median salary for a 25-year-old man with a high-school degree or less is $29,000 a year, which is about $2,600 less than what Gen Xers earned at that age and nearly $10,000 less than Baby Boomers. In 1970, more than 90 percent of 30-year-olds were earning more than their parents were at the same age; in 2010, only half of 30-year-olds were. Millennials have, on average, no housing wealth.

Therapists who treat Millennials told me that many of their clients feel frustrated and embarrassed that they aren’t able to afford “adult things” such as houses and vacations, either because they don’t earn enough or because they are handcuffed to enormous student loans. Marriage can alleviate loneliness and ease financial strain, but Millennials are getting married later than previous generations. “They feel that they shouldn’t be in this situation,” says Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist who works at Weill-Cornell Medical College. That can cause shame, and shame is “one of the bigger drivers of suicide.”

The difference between what we have and what others have can prompt the bone-deep shame that leads to suicidal ideation, says Jonathan Singer, an associate professor of social work at Loyola University Chicago and the president of the American Association of Suicidology. People might start to feel like a burden or, if they’re unable to land a job, like they have no way of building a social network. More so than in other cultures, Americans tend to intertwine their jobs with their identity. “In the United States, if somebody is unemployed, we see that as an indication of bad character,” Singer told me.

Yet Millennials are the first generation to have come of age with Facebook and Twitter—compelled to compare themselves with others but not jaded enough to know how empty these comparisons can be. Gen Z actually has a more healthily skeptical view toward social media, says Kate Comtois, a professor who focuses on suicide prevention at the University of Washington. These platforms had already ripened by the time Gen Z became teens, and perhaps as a result, they see social media’s downsides more clearly. Millennials, by contrast, were the first to reveal their life to an online audience, and some felt stung by the reception. As Lacey, Tylor’s sister, put it to me, “We have our blooper reel in our head, and everyone else’s highlight reel in the palm of our hands.”

Lacking the money they need and the idyllic life they crave, Millennials experience extremely high levels of anxiety and perfectionism, several therapists told me. “They have almost double the rate of anxiety disorders compared to Baby Boomers,” says Nadine Kaslow, a psychiatrist and suicide-prevention expert at Emory University School of Medicine, who estimates that at least a third of her clients are Millennials. “The anxiety, depression, perfectionism, and substance use all increase their risk for suicidal thoughts.”

The nature of these substances, for that matter, blurs the line between overdoses and suicides. Some people use depressants such as alcohol to take the edge off their anxiety, then wind up depressed. And some suicides are simply drug overdoses in disguise—someone who doesn’t care much about living might get less and less careful about not overdosing.

The competing crises of 2020 are likely to make all of this worse. One study found that graduating into a recession has long-term, negative effects on life expectancy into middle age. People who entered the labor market in the recession of the early ’80s suffered higher rates of lung cancer, liver disease, and drug overdoses later in life. For Millennials who entered the labor market from 2008 to 2010, “all kinds of expectations they had about how they’re going to move right into the next job blew up,” Comtois told me.

As the economy folds in on itself, the gains that older Millennials have made in the past 10 years may be erased entirely. A recent survey found that 31 percent of people ages 18 to 34 lost their jobs or were put on a temporary leave because of the pandemic, compared with 22 percent of those ages 35 to 49 and 15 percent of those ages 50 to 64.

The recent protests against systemic racism and police abuses are yet another example of the frustrations faced by young people, especially black Millennials. In recent weeks, there’s been an outpouring of examples of unequal treatment of people of color in prestige industries such as journalism and publishing. Though racism itself can harm public health and life expectancy, the protests and police tactics used during them are also likely to spread the coronavirus. That could mean more deaths from COVID-19 in coming months, or another economy-crushing shutdown.

Every person I spoke with was concerned that suicides among Millennials and other groups might rise further in the coming years. Diana Anzaldua, a therapist in Austin, Texas, says she’s heard more of her Millennial clients talking about suicidal ideation recently. The social connections that buoyed us have been stripped away because of pandemic-related social-distancing measures. One study projected that the pandemic could lead to 75,000 additional deaths from drugs, alcohol, and suicide. Most gun deaths are suicides, and there’s been an uptick in gun purchases during the pandemic.

What does suicidal ideation look like? Some researchers theorize that it’s a feeling of defeat and humiliation followed by a sense of entrapment—of no exit. Some people say they’re thinking about hurting themselves, or that they feel utterly alone. Others are more explicit: “I just want this to be over.” When someone says, “I’m thinking this is how I would do it,” the alarms clang in therapists’ heads.

These alarming trends don’t mean we should give up on Millennials—or on anyone else who is contemplating hurting themselves. Suicide prevention can be, in fact, extremely effective. Admitting that you struggle with depression can still summon more stigma than help, but Millennials, at least, are more open to talking about mental health than previous generations were.

In fact, in part because the quarantine struggle has been a shared experience, some early reports have suggested that suicides have not increased so far during the pandemic. People see that others are depressed and lonely, making defeat feel more like a temporary problem than a permanent condition. The pandemic is a shared burden, not an individual one.

One of the best ways to prevent suicide is to make people feel less alone by assuring them that someone cares about them. It doesn’t even have to be a special someone. Some studies found that suicidal people were less likely to act on their thoughts if the hospital where they had sought treatment mailed them a simple form letter, as Jason Cherkis reported for HuffPost. Just because someone is suicidal doesn’t mean they’re hopeless.

Lacey felt guilty for a long time after Tylor’s death, but was also unsure exactly how much guilt she should feel. If Tylor had said, “Hey, if you don't come over, I'm going to kill myself,” she would have rushed to his side. Ultimately, she has come to the conclusion that, given how many times he had alluded to suicide, he would have likely harmed himself at another time.

Lacey credits Tylor’s death with changing her perspective on life. She no longer goes weeks without speaking to her family members after an argument, “because we know what it’s like to one second have them, and one second not,” she says. Even though she’s in only her mid-20s, she’s been a foster mom to 10 kids and adopted a baby girl. When I asked how to describe her in this article, Lacey said, “A mom, foster mom, and adoptive mom.”

She knows the quote about making lemonade out of lemons is a stretch. But, she said, even after the worst tragedies, you can make something resembling lemonade, approaching lemonade. Even if you don’t have lemonade, you’ll have something.

The Millennial Mental-Health Crisis
Suicides and overdoses among young adults were already skyrocketing before the pandemic started. Now experts fear that the situation is going to get even worse.
Read more: ... ng/612943/

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'This is the most overwhelmed I've ever felt'

Post by greybeard58 » Thu Jun 18, 2020 12:04 pm

'This is the most overwhelmed I've ever felt'

How are you?

We are asked that question every day. But how often do we just say "fine" or "good" and move on? How often do we actually admit the truth -- to ourselves as well as others?

You want to know my truth? How am I doing? How am I handling quarantine and the global pandemic? Put it this way: I'm still breathing.

It has been one of those months. Nonstop, my mood jumping up and down and all around. The pandemic has been one of the scariest times I've been through. I'm thankful that my family and I are safe and healthy. I'm grateful we don't have to worry about paying bills or putting food on the table, like so many other folks right now. But still, I'm struggling.

Before the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, I shared my mental health issues publicly for the first time. It wasn't easy to admit I wasn't perfect. But opening up took a huge weight off my back. It made life easier. Now I'm opening up again. I want people to know they're not alone. So many of us are fighting our mental health demons now more than ever.

The thing is -- and people who live with mental health issues all know this -- it never goes away. You have good days and bad. But there's never a finish line. I've done so many interviews after Rio where the story was the same: Michael Phelps opened up about depression, went into a treatment program, won gold in his last Olympics and now is all better. I wish that were the truth. I wish it were that easy. But honestly -- and I mean this in the nicest way possible -- that's just ignorant. Somebody who doesn't understand what people with anxiety or depression or post-traumatic stress disorder deal with has no idea.

And really, to be blunt, the media is part of that. They dragged me through the dirt for everything I did wrong over the years -- and trust me, I know there was plenty. I'm responsible for every mistake I've ever made. Nobody else. I've gotten help and I ended my career on a high note, so the nice neat story is to put me back on a pedestal. But here's the reality: I won't ever be "cured." This will never go away. It's something where I've had to accept it, learn to deal with it and make it a priority in my life. And yes, that's a hell of a lot easier said than done.

The pandemic has been a challenge I never expected. All the uncertainty. Being cooped up in a house. And the questions. So many questions. When is it going to end? What will life look like when this is over? Am I doing everything I can to be safe? Is my family safe? It drives me insane. I'm used to traveling, competing, meeting people. This is just craziness. My emotions are all over the place. I'm always on edge. I'm always defensive. I'm triggered so easily.

There are times where I feel absolutely worthless, where I completely shut down but have this bubbling anger that is through the roof. If I'm being honest, more than once I've just screamed out loud, "I wish I wasn't me!" Sometimes there's just this overwhelming feeling that I can't handle it anymore. I don't want to be me anymore. It's almost like that scene in "The Last Dance" where Michael Jordan is on the couch, smoking a cigar and he's just like, "Done. Break." He can't take it anymore.

This is the most overwhelmed I've ever felt in my life. That's why I have times where I don't want to be me. I wish I could just be "Johnny Johnson," some random person.

The other night, I had a blowup with Nicole, my wife. It wasn't good. But at the same time, I was able to let out all those pent-up emotions. Sometimes you need that. It was hard. But I feel so much better today. Sometimes that's just part of the process for me.

So how do you fight this? How do you manage it? For me, I have to get in the gym every day for at least 90 minutes. It's the first thing I do. I wake up between 5:15 and 7, no alarm, just whenever I roll over. If it's 7, I'll feed the boys and get them situated, but if it's earlier, I just escape to the gym. And look, there are days that I don't want to be there. But I force myself to do it. I know it's for my mental health as much as my physical health.

If I miss a day, it's a disaster. Then I get into a negative pattern of thinking in my own head. And when that happens, I'm the only one who can stop it. And it typically doesn't stop very fast. I'll just drag it out, almost to punish myself in a way. That's what I do if I make a mistake or if I upset somebody, then I think it's always my fault and just take it all out on myself. When that happens day after day, you can put yourself in a scary situation pretty quickly. And that's been this quarantine a lot of the time.

When I was swimming, the pool was my escape. I would take all that anger and use it as motivation. But now that escape is gone. I've learned in those moments it's important to try to take a step back. Take a deep breath. Go back to square one and ask yourself: Where these emotions are coming from? Why are you so angry? That's something I learned in treatment. That's something I try to teach my three boys. But when you're in that mood, you don't always want to do what's "right" or what you know you should do. I try to write notes on my mirror with a dry-erase marker. There are motivational quotes throughout my office I use to help me. And I journal. I have 20 to 30 pieces of scrap paper all over where I write things down that pop into my head or I want to remember to help me later.

But when things get really bad, I literally give myself a timeout. I just have to remove myself. I don't want the kids to see me like that. So I'll go to my room for a few minutes or the office or my closet. Just a quiet setting to think and be calm by myself. To reset, in a way.

There are moments, those times where I'm stuck in my own head, I don't think it can get any worse, and Boomer, my 4-year-old, will walk up to me, give me a hug and just tell me he loves me. When you absolutely least expect it. It's literally the greatest thing in the world.

After my time in the gym, it's usually snack time for me and the boys. Then we're off to whatever we are going to do that day. Maybe we are going to play on the dirt track at our house or we're going to hit the swimming pool. Whatever we are doing, dinner is always on the table at 5. I take responsibility for that. I enjoy cooking. It helps me. Then it's bath time, bed time, wind down a bit with Nicole and then I'm in bed by 10 before we do it all over again.

I know the things I need to do to take care of my mental health. But again, it's not always that easy. A few years ago, I joined the board of Talkspace, an online mobile therapy company that provides access to therapists whenever needed. It has been so helpful to me when I've been on the road. I've encouraged it to friends and family. I tell people how valuable it has been for me. It literally has saved my life. We all want to be the best versions of ourselves. And talking to a therapist, being vulnerable, opening up about what you're dealing with, it only helps. Nobody can deal with life all alone.

Earlier this month, I donated 500 months of free Talkspace therapy to medical workers on the front lines fighting COVID-19. For every single one of us right now, our heroes are those front line workers. I can't imagine what they are going through. I only hope therapy can be as life-changing for them as it was for me. The Michael Phelps Foundation has also committed more than $100,000 in grants to add social-emotional curriculum as part of the IM Program we created for Boys & Girls Clubs throughout America.

But look, you can only get help if you ask for it. You need to pick up the phone. Open the app. Or just make an appointment near your home. I'll be honest, the past two months, when I've probably needed help the most, I haven't done much of anything with a therapist. I know that's part of my problem. But it's also a prime example of how quickly you can get into this "f--- off" mentality. I know I have to be better. I have to stay on top of that.

But this is also why I'm opening up. I want to help others. And I want to hold myself accountable. There are a ton of people fighting the exact same thing. It doesn't matter what you went through, where you've come from or what you want to be. Nothing can hold you back. You just need to learn the tricks that work for you and then stick with them, believe in them, to keep yourself from getting into a negative cycle.

I have to give myself more love and more compassion. I just don't. I look at our boys. They fall down, hit their head, cry a bit and 30 seconds later they are back on their feet chasing their brothers and laughing. They've moved on. They're resilient. They live in the moment so well. That's what we all need to do.

Not long ago, I had a speaking engagement at a major global company about mental health. After I spoke, there was a Q&A and this younger guy gets up in front of the entire group and starts talking about his struggles. I think about that moment sometimes. The courage he had to get up in front of all his coworkers and admit his challenges. It shows we are finally getting to a point where there is an understanding that mental health struggles are real. It's serious, life-and-death stuff.

There's nothing to hide from. Nothing to be afraid of. The fight is only against yourself. Think about that the next time somebody asks that simple question: "How are you?"

Michael Phelps: 'This is the most overwhelmed I've ever felt'
Read more: ... lmed-ever-

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Study compares bicycling concussions to collision sports concussions

Post by greybeard58 » Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:50 pm

Study compares bicycling concussions to collision sports concussions

In this study, bicycling concussions resulted in a greater mean duration of PCS (23.7 months) than a comparison group of patients with PCS due to collision sports (16.1 months) (p=0.07).

What are the findings?
• Lost control of the bicycle and fell (35.7%), struck by a motor vehicle (28.6%), tried to avoid striking a person or animal and lost control (14.3%), collided with an object (14.3%) and injured as a result of a collision with another bicycle (7.1%) were the mechanisms of concussion.
• The most prevalent symptoms were headache (71.4%), fatigue (53.6%), memory problems (50.0%), sleep disturbance (50.0%), anxiety (46.4%) and sensitivity to light/noise (46.4%).
• Bicycling concussions resulted in a greater duration of postconcussion syndrome (23.7 months) compared with a collision sports comparison group (16.1 months).
• At the time of the last follow-up, 23 (82.1%) patients had failed to recover completely.

How might it impact clinical practice in the future?
• These findings help to elucidate the manifestation of postconcussion syndrome (PCS) following bicycling-related concussion and can assist clinicians in the management of such sports-related injuries.
• Inform clinicians about the severity of bicycling-related concussions and subsequent PCS, and potential prevention measures.

Bicycling-related concussions leading to postconcussion syndrome in adults
Read the study at:

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July 9 at 3 pm CST: 20 Questions on Concussion with Dr. Robert Cantu, Part 2

Post by greybeard58 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:52 pm

July 9 at 3 pm CST: 20 Questions on Concussion with Dr. Robert Cantu, Part 2

20 Questions on Concussion with Dr. Robert Cantu, Part 2

Join us for a Q&A on concussions and Post-Concussion Syndrome with Concussion Legacy Foundation co-founder and medical director Dr. Robert Cantu! Tune in to learn effective coping strategies and hear helpful tips on managing your symptoms.

The webinar will be hosted by CLF chief impact officer Tyler Maland.

Have questions you'd like answered? Email them to us at

Check out our first "20 Questions" interview with Dr. Cantu here:

Jul 9, 2020 04:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register at: ... AcuXSkSOTg

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women more likely to continue playing while symptomatic with a concussion

Post by greybeard58 » Sat Jul 04, 2020 4:26 pm

women more likely to continue playing while symptomatic with a concussion.

There has been a lot of research performed over the last few years analyzing the effects concussions and repeated head injuries have on athletes, however, most of this research has been done on men’s brains. Chris Nowinski, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, talks about the shift toward increasing gender equity in these studies, and what we’ve learned about female athletes and concussions.

What are the differences between men and women when it comes to concussions?

Scientists have uncovered differences between how male and female athletes respond to concussions. In sports like basketball and soccer, females are more likely to suffer concussions. Some studies show females report a higher number of symptoms and are more likely to have a longer recovery.

Biomechanical differences appear to be one cause of the increased concussion risk. Women tend to have smaller and less muscular necks than men, which in a collision results in their head moving farther and faster, increasing their risk of concussion.

Other research has shown that gender norms, rather than sex, affect concussion reporting, with women more likely to continue playing while symptomatic with a concussion.

What do we know about the long-term effects of concussions or repeated head impacts in women?

Unfortunately, most of what we know about the long-term effects of concussion and repeated head impacts is from studying men. At the VA-Boston University-Concussion Legacy Foundation Brain Bank, the world’s largest brain bank studying the long-term effects of head impacts, only 2 percent of more than 800 brains donated post-mortem are from females.

One reason for the gap points to history. Before Title IX, few women played contact sports, so there are fewer older female athletes who have sustained thousands of head impacts. Another reason is that most of the research on both living and deceased athletes is on football players, and few women play football.

The Concussion Legacy Foundation is supporting research on female athletes by funding the new S.H.I.N.E. study at Boston University.

What is the S.H.I.N.E. Study?

S.H.I.N.E. stands for Soccer Head Impacts and Neurological Effects, and is the first study to look at the long-term effects of playing soccer on the brain in female athletes. Launched in 2019 at Boston University and funded in part by the Concussion Legacy Foundation, scientists will examine 20 former elite women’s soccer players over age 40 using MRI scans, blood tests, and tests of brain function.

U.S. Women’s National Team legends Brandi Chastain and Michelle Akers are participating and leading the recruiting effort. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, has been diagnosed in nearly 500 male athletes, but it has yet to be diagnosed in a female athlete. Many of the study’s participants, including Akers and Chastain, have also pledged to donate their brains to our research.

What can the sports industry do to reduce concussions and CTE risk?

While a lot of attention is paid to concussion testing and returning to play, we believe athletes and coaches should invest more time in preventing concussions and CTE. Once a concussion has occurred, it is difficult to influence recovery, and some athletes never return to normal.

Both outcomes are prevented with the same strategy – reducing the number and severity of head impacts. In soccer, that means limiting repetition of headers. In all sports, that means reducing the use of dangerous drills in practice and enforcing safe play in games. Sports are wonderful but there is no benefit to getting hit in the head.

How Concussions Affect a Female Athlete’s Brain
Read more: ... tes-brain/#

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Losing the Identity of a Hockey Player: The Long-Term Effects of Concussions

Post by greybeard58 » Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:32 pm

Losing the Identity of a Hockey Player: The Long-Term Effects of Concussions


Aim: To describe what suffering multiple concussions meant for former semi-professional or professional hockey players who were forced to end their career.

Results: Nine former Swedish hockey players, who once played on national or professional teams were interviewed. The interviews were analyzed with reference to hermeneutic phenomenology to interpret and explain their experiences. The theme of losing one's identity as a hockey player was constructed from five subthemes: being limited in everyday life, returning to the hockey stadium as soon as possible, forming a post career identity, lacking understanding and support, and preventing injuries by respecting other players.

Conclusion: The former hockey players struggled with developing their off-the-ice identities and with finding other sources of meaning for their lives.

Losing the Identity of a Hockey Player: The Long-Term Effects of Concussions
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New Webinar Wednesday at 3 pm CST Neuroendocrine Dysfunction After Concussions: What Patients & Families Should Know

Post by greybeard58 » Mon Jul 20, 2020 2:30 pm

New Webinar Wednesday at 3 pm CST

Neuroendocrine Dysfunction After Concussions: What Patients & Families Should Know

Did you know a pituitary gland injury – which can occur at the same time as a brain injury – can create symptoms that mirror concussion symptoms? Neuroendocrine assessment of pituitary function may be helpful for people experiencing persistent concussion symptoms, especially brain fog, fatigue, listlessness, and depression, who are not responding to active therapies. This investigational assessment can help confirm or rule out the underlying causes of those symptoms.

Join host CLF CEO Chris Nowinski, Ph.D., and Dr. Tamara Wexler, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Langone Health, for a webinar on neuroendocrine dysfunction after concussion. Dr. Wexler will discuss her research on how the neuroendocrine system can change after a brain injury, and what patients and families should know as they seek treatments for long-term concussion symptoms.

Do you have questions you’d like answered on the webinar? Email them to

Jul 22, 2020 04:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register at: ... STtmRdNK0g

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Cassie Campbell interview

Post by greybeard58 » Thu Jul 23, 2020 2:48 pm

Cassie Campbell interview

Olympic athlete and hockey captain Cassie Campbell has had multiple concussions, including one that kept her off the ice for several months. She shares her experience and her thoughts on concussion awareness

Brain Injury Across Canada
Watch at: ... e=emb_logo

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Michael Phelps: ‘I Can’t See Any More Suicides’

Post by greybeard58 » Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:36 am

Michael Phelps: ‘I Can’t See Any More Suicides’
In the documentary “The Weight of Gold,” Phelps presents a stark picture of the mental wear and tear Olympians endure.

Michael Phelps after winning gold in his last race, the 4x100-meter medley relay at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Michael Phelps after winning gold in his last race, the 4x100-meter medley relay at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Credit...James Hill for The New York Times
Matthew Futterman
By Matthew Futterman
July 29, 2020

The relationship between the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and its most decorated Olympian, Michael Phelps, has been rocky for years.

The more Phelps won, and did he ever win, racking up 28 Olympic medals across five Games, the more he became the organization’s poster child, worthy of whatever special treatment it could provide. Or, from Phelps’s perspective, he was the latest and greatest commodity that Olympics promoters cared about only as a medal-producing swimming machine.

Phelps distills that dynamic near the end of “The Weight of Gold,” the HBO Sports documentary he narrates about depression and other mental illnesses with which Olympians struggle. Phelps is also an executive producer of the film, which was set to have its premiere on Wednesday night.

“I can honestly say, looking back on my career, I don’t think anybody really cared to help us,” he says, staring blankly at an off screen interviewer. “I don’t think anyone jumped in to ask us if we were OK. As long as we were performing, I don’t think anything else really mattered.”

In recent weeks, as they have braced for the release of the film and the criticism it levels at a system that long prioritized winning over everything else, Olympic officials past and present have noted all the perks Phelps received during his career, including top training and coaching, access to cutting-edge technology and a two-bedroom suite at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs that only he and the occasional visiting physician used if he wasn’t there. Everyone else slept in single or double rooms.

But that uneven treatment and response to the film, Phelps said in an interview this week, illustrates how Olympic officials and coaches view athletes as valuable assets during their brief windows of Olympic glory, but then leave them largely on their own during the years between Games. And when their careers are interrupted or over, the system moves on to the next star.

“I feel like they don’t care about anything I do right now,” Phelps, 35, said of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

In recent months, the committee, which says it has always welcomed and wanted Phelps’s input, has formed a mental health task force to help change and expand a system that its chief executive, Sarah Hirshland, has made clear needs to be updated. The organization takes roughly 1,000 athletes combined to the Winter and Summer Olympics during each four-year cycle but has just three mental health officers on its staff.

“There is room for us to grow and improve,” said Bahati VanPelt, who became chief of athlete services for the U.S.O.P.C. last year. “I am a big believer in a framework that is holistic and available throughout the entire life cycle of an athlete’s career.”

The crux of the problem, Phelps and other athletes say, is that for several years Olympic officials and elite athletes have had two very different definitions of athlete support.

To the Olympic committee, athlete support has largely meant providing services — state-of-the-art training facilities, top coaches and sports scientists, access to sports psychologists, plus a lot of Team U.S.A. swag — that seemingly led directly to bringing home medals.

To athletes, support should have evolved by now into something more holistic that included caring for their mental health in ways beyond the sports psychologists who focused on priming their minds for competition.

“We have to educate people that mental health is not a weakness,” said Katie Uhlaender, a four-time Olympian in skeleton who is among the athletes profiled in the film. Others include Steven Holcomb, a gold medalist in bobsled who died in 2017; the figure skaters Sasha Cohen and Gracie Gold, and Jeret Peterson, an aerial skier who killed himself in 2011. “It’s a matter of having people come at this from the perspective of performing versus healing,” she said.

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Uhlaender and others say there is a dire need for athletes to have easier access to therapy that does not involve going through the coaches and high performance staff — people who each year evaluate their fitness for competition and membership on the national team and who might penalize an athlete they know has needed help dealing with mental illness.

The U.S.O.P.C. has tried to move in this direction. A growing number of athletes have access to unlimited phone counseling and six in-person therapy sessions with a licensed professional through the employee assistance company ComPsych. The benefit was extended this year to some 4,400 athletes, more than three times the number that had access to it before the coronavirus pandemic caused the postponement of the Tokyo Games to 2021.

Critics say ComPsych is really a corporate human resources tool rather than a mental health services entity. VanPelt confirmed that the Olympic committee is in talks with Talkspace, a telehealth and digital therapy company for which Phelps is both an investor and a spokesman.

The committee is also building a registry of mental health professionals whom athletes will be able to consult without approval from anyone at the U.S.O.P.C., though who qualifies and pays for that benefit is still being worked out.

In 2019, Kelly Catlin, an Olympic cyclist, killed herself, and this year, Pavle Jovanovic, a former Olympic bobsledder, killed himself.

“I can’t see any more suicides,” Phelps said.

Phelps said he discovered the value of therapy in 2014, during the first months of his comeback attempt ahead of the 2016 Olympics, when he was caught speeding and driving while intoxicated in a tunnel in Baltimore. He said he views the incident, and the suicidal thoughts he had afterward, as the culmination of years of “stuffing down” his feelings of emptiness, vulnerability and a lack of confidence about anything other than winning races.

The opportunity to make “The Weight of Gold” arose in 2017 when its director, Brett Rapkin, approached Peter Carlisle, Phelps’s agent, about the project as Phelps was becoming more vocal about mental health. Rapkin had been working on a film about Holcomb, the bobsledder who struggled with depression and spoke openly about his suicidal thoughts. Rapkin last interviewed Holcomb in the spring of 2017, just days before Holcomb died alone at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., of an overdose of sleeping pills and alcohol.

“The metaphor I like to use is when it comes to the spectrum of sports performance, we think the top is hitting a grand slam to win the game and the bottom is striking out, when in fact the actual bottom is not wanting to be alive,” Rapkin said.

The filmmakers approached U.S.O.P.C. officials about participating in the film and providing footage. The organization said it would only do so at a cost of roughly $100,000 — a discount of its standard licensing fee. It also wanted the film to highlight the health services it provides, services that Phelps and other subjects in the film deemed wanting.

That was not the film Phelps, Carlisle and Rapkin wanted to make. The result only has athletes on camera talking about their struggles.

“I knew it was going to be emotional and raw,” Phelps said. “It’s the real emotions we lived with our whole career.”

Matthew Futterman is a veteran sports journalist and the author of two books, “Running to the Edge: A Band of Misfits and the Guru Who Unlocked the Secrets of Speed” and “Players: How Sports Became a Business.” @mattfutterman

A version of this article appears in print on July 31, 2020, Section B, Page 11 of the New York edition with the headline: ‘I Can’t See Any More Suicides,’ Phelps Says in Documentary. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe ... 4651b1e626

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Abby Wambach recalls feeling like she “was dying”

Post by greybeard58 » Thu Aug 06, 2020 11:00 am

recalls feeling like she “was dying”

Abby Wambach had only one diagnosed concussion in her long and laureled career. It came in April 2013, two months before she broke Mia Hamm’s world record for national team goals for either gender.

Playing against the Washington Spirit with her Western New York Flash, Wambach took a vicious blow to the head when her own defender cleared the ball and clobbered her teammate from close range. Wambach crumpled to the ground and balled up, clutching her head. The referee waved off the Flash trainer, refusing the medical attention for a player who was obviously struggling. Wambach got up, and the game went on. When it ended, Wambach sank to her knees and mumbled incoherently before stumbling off the field.

Wambach now recalls feeling like she “was dying.” She had long gaps in her memory after the concussion. She couldn’t remember the moment itself. She walked into the wrong locker room after the game, compounding her confusion.

“That was really the beginning, for me, of this process of educating myself around head trauma,” Wambach tells Yahoo Sports. Up until that point, she thought she had steered clear of head trauma. Or, at least, nothing was ever diagnosed. But amid a national wave of increased understanding and awareness of concussions, it changed her approach to the game.

“I knew that was kind of at the end of my career,” she recalls. “I wasn’t heading the ball nearly as much, mostly because I just didn’t want to get another concussion. Yes, I still put myself in positions to head the ball. Yes, I still scored goals with my head. But I started to think twice. And before this concussion, I didn’t really think twice. I thought I was invincible, for some reason, which I think is really dangerous.”

Now, Wambach thinks a lot about how often she taped up her ankles before playing, without ever worrying about her brain. She was a physically bruising striker who, at 5-foot-11, towered over defenses and, remarkably, scored more goals with her head than her feet. She headed the ball constantly. She was forever putting her head into the fray — sometimes suffering cheap shots, too.

The science now shows that, long-term, a series of blows to the head that aren’t full-on concussions can still collectively amount to the same kind of damage.

“I can’t speculate how many micro-concussions or head impacts I took, but I do know that it’s probably in the hundreds of times,” Wambach says. “I think about it now and I’m like, ‘God, that feels like such a stupid thing to have done for so many years.’ But it’s where I made a living.”

When she was young, Wambach always figured she’d just deal with whatever physical consequences her career left her with later on. “Well, now I’m in the later,” she says. And even though the 40-year-old has no post-concussion symptoms, “that doesn’t make me any less worried for the future.”

These days, she coaches her stepdaughters. They’re heading the ball now.

“I’m terrified for them,” Wambach says. “I cringe whenever players go up to head a soccer ball. I cringe at my former, risk-taking self. Because we only have this one brain.”

She’s wistful about it all. “There is beauty in heading,” Wambach says. “And there is a time and place for heading. For me, it is literally how I made a career for myself. There is a bittersweet-ness to this whole thing. But now in my retirement, I’m really terrified about what could possibly be down the road for me.”

Startling disparities with female athlete concussions

In sports, the gender gap in compensation is well documented. But there also exists a gender gap in concussions — and our understanding of those concussions.

“In sports that women and guys play, like basketball and soccer, you’ll find that the women have 2-3 times the reported incidence of concussion,” says Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the world’s leading concussion doctors and a co-founder of the CTE Center at Boston University and the Concussion Legacy Foundation. These numbers are borne out by reviewed and repeated studies, he says.

In May, a study by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons measured an increase in the number of head injuries in high school athletes, in spite of growing awareness.

Girls’ soccer had a higher proportion of concussions relative to other injuries than the boys, about 30 percent to 25 percent. Meanwhile, the rate of reported concussions in girls’ soccer grew by 21 percent from the 2010-14 period to the 2015-17 period. In fact, girls’ soccer came second only to football in the number of concussions — 10.2 concussions for every 10,000 practices and games for football, to 8.4 for girls’ soccer. Boys’ soccer, by contrast, had just 3.5 concussions per 10,000 games and practices.

“So why do women have more reported concussions than guys?” Cantu asks. “That’s the $64,000 question that we don’t have an answer to. More probably than not, part of the answer is that women’s necks are not as strong as guys’ and therefore their brains are exposed to greater accelerations for a lesser hit because the neck isn’t rigid. That maybe is one answer. Other people have speculated — no definite proof — that as a group, women are more honest in reporting signs and symptoms of concussion.”

It isn’t just concussions that lead to CTE, it’s repetitive head injury. Soccer is rife with blows to the head, mostly from heading balls kicked high or hard, but also from flying elbows, head-to-head collisions, flying goalkeeper fists or some other impact.

In October, the New England Journal of Medicine published a Scottish study of more than 7,500 former professional soccer players that discovered 3.5 times higher rates of neurodegenerative disease as the cause of death than in the rest of the population. Former soccer players were five times likelier to have had Alzheimer’s, four times likelier to suffer from Motor Neuron Disease, and twice as likely to live with Parkinson’s.

In the game in which Wambach suffered her concussion, she wasn’t even subbed off. That was seven years ago. But this kind of thing keeps happening, even as awareness spreads. Just last summer, the Washington Spirit’s Rose Lavelle took a blow to the head from the ball so hard that all of Providence Park in Portland could hear it. But she talked her way back onto the field, even though she was obviously still affected.

USWNT legends committing brains to science

Michelle Akers, the first superstar of American women’s soccer, doesn’t remember how many concussions she had, exactly, over the course of her two-decade playing career. She likes to joke that it’s because she had too many concussions. But the fact that she doesn’t know, that nobody knows, is central to the problem here. We don’t know enough.

For Akers, there were the diagnosed concussions. Three of them, she thinks. She had one in China early in her national team career, back in the late 1980s. She had another early on in the 1995 World Cup. And she had a third right before the 1999 World Cup, which broke her eye socket.

“But we all know more happened,” Akers says. “At the same time, I know I also had the smaller concussions [sub-concussive hits] that are undiagnosable. But enough to have some effects now. You can’t tie everything in to one or several events, but I’m sure it must have had an effect.”

Akers gets migraines so bad that they make it impossible to do anything that day. She’s 54 now, and she wonders if it might get worse as she gets older. She thinks it’s possible she has chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the debilitating and degenerative disease that has famously felled scores of former NFL players.

“I’ve had concussions,” Akers says. “I’ve had concussion-related after-effects. And who knows? Because our research is in the infant stage still on what happens to a brain over time with repeated injuries. That’s one consideration.

“I headed the ball a lot. A lot.”

Brandi Chastain, famous for twirling her jersey over her head after converting the penalty kick that clinched the 1999 Women’s World Cup, headed the ball a lot, too.

“I took on the responsibility of the defender that I would be brave and I would compete for air balls and would take care of those things,” she says now. “And I felt really good about it. I loved heading the ball. And there wasn’t anybody around saying, ‘Hey, you might not want to do that.’

“Nobody diagnosed concussions back then,” Chastain continues. “It was, ‘You got your bell rung. Shake it off. Get back out there.’ I don’t know if I ever had concussions. I’m sure I did. I can honestly say I don’t recall ever having nausea, forgetfulness. Blacking out — possibly once. The likelihood is high, but there was never any diagnosis.”

Cindy Parlow Cone knows for sure that she had concussions, because they ended her 10-year national team career in 2004.

“When I was playing, you would see stars, and we didn’t really have the understanding that we do now that that wasn’t normal,” she says. “I’ve seen a lot of stars in my playing career. When I was playing, it wasn’t a concussion unless you were knocked out.”

Since then, she has risen to the presidency of the United States Soccer Federation, taking over following the resignation of Carlos Cordeiro in March. Parlow Cone considers herself lucky. Most of her lingering concussion symptoms have abated since she was forced to retire in 2006, two years after playing her 158th and final national team game at only 26 years old.

Her extensive attempts to recover came to nothing. She had a lot of headaches. Visual tracking issues. Jaw pain.

“The doctor said I could go back to playing, but they couldn’t really say what would happen if I got another concussion,” Parlow Cone says. “And so I made the decision to go ahead and retire because I was struggling with post-concussion symptoms for years. So I wanted to preserve what I had, because I was hoping I still had a lot of years yet to live. It was not an easy decision to make.”

In the last few years, all three women have committed their brains to science when they die, to study the impact of all those head injuries. They are joined by Wambach and fellow U.S. women’s national team icons Brianna Scurry and Megan Rapinoe.

Why public pledges are so crucial to women’s research

The brains are the key. We won’t fully understand the difference in the danger soccer poses to women and men until more women’s brains can be studied. That’s why Chris Nowinski, a co-founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation and a key figure in the reckoning with traumatic brain injuries in American sports, has been lobbying female athletes to commit brains to the CTE Center when they die.

The CTE Center now has nearly 1,000 brains in its bank, but only 2 percent of those are from women. “Brain donation is a critical way to understand the long-term effects,” Nowinski says. “We just can’t image CTE and other neurodegenerative diseases and so we need more brains to study.”

But getting women’s brains is much harder than getting men’s.

“It’s been remarkably difficult to recruit the brains of women into the brain bank,” Nowinski says. “Part of that is because our brain bank is a majority football players; part of it is cultural reasons because Title IX [is still fairly recent and] we don’t have a lot of older female athletes. I think part of it is also just a cultural bias that families are fine with donating their father’s brain but may be more sensitive with their mother’s brain.”

That’s why Nowinski and Cantu set about recruiting high-profile female soccer players to commit to brain donation and to do so publicly. “It takes leaders like these women to change the culture and help people realize brain donation among female athletes is important as well, and is OK, and that it’s what female athletes want,” Nowinski says.

Until that becomes more common, we won’t have a full picture of the effect of concussions in women.

“We desperately need women’s brains,” Cantu says. “We don’t have a case yet of CTE in women. If any of these players would be predisposed to CTE, it would be an elite woman who played many, many years of the sport in which there was a considerable amount of head trauma, which is the case in soccer. It’s hugely important.”

‘How can I help leave the game in a better place?’

Akers had more than 30 surgeries on one knee in an attempt to regain its usefulness in everyday life. But when she spent two years emailing and calling doctors and researchers to learn more, it wasn’t about her bum knee. She wanted to know more about the effect of brain injuries. She wanted to find out about donating hers when she died.

“I’m an organ donor,” she says. “It’s on my driver’s license. So if I die suddenly, I won’t be in need of my corneas or tissue that they can harvest to save other people’s lives. So to me, a little bit of a pun intended, it’s a no-brainer. It’s difficult to understand why someone would not let that all be used for science or to save lives, so that’s what I’m doing.”

Eventually, she connected with Nowinski and Cantu, and she found a future home for her brain. “Nobody else was asking for my brain, so it wasn’t like there was a big competition,” Akers says. “It’s not hard. I like to help. I like to make a difference. It’s an easy choice.”

Chastain co-founded the Institute of Sports Law and Ethics at Santa Clara University. Her husband is the head women’s soccer coach there, and Chastain has been a long-time volunteer assistant. Through ISLE, she connected with Nowinski and Cantu.

“Of course, it’s a scary proposition because you start thinking about donating your body parts and then you think about mortality,” Chastain says. “But it got me thinking about the legacy of what we’ve done. And yes, we’ve won some World Cups and we’ve won some Olympics, and that’s all amazing. But how can I help leave the game in a better place? After thinking about that, I realized that this donation would forever change what we know about the game and if, in fact, it helps one player stay healthy or have a longer career, then that legacy is more important than the winning part. Because then we’ve secured health and wellness for her and her family going forward.”

Chastain also set about lobbying U.S. Soccer to restrict heading in youth soccer, which it did in 2015 — banning heading for children who are 10 or younger and limiting it to 30 minutes a week in ages up to 13. Chastain and others have also pushed for the American game to become more technical and modern, played on the ground, rather than in their air, to reduce the risk of head injury.

In a survey U.S. Soccer sent out to its youth club membership, 92.5 percent of respondents self-reported that they had adopted the federation’s guidelines on heading in youth soccer. Meanwhile, 72 percent said they no longer work on heading in practice and almost half said headers have completely or almost entirely disappeared from their weekly games.

Meanwhile, the federation’s chief medical officer, Dr. George Chiampas, sits on FIFA’s nine-member medical committee where he advocates for further reforms to help prevent concussions. Parlow Cone has worked on changing substitution rules for players who might be concussed — allowing for temporary substitutions, for instance.

A year ago, the Concussion Legacy Foundation began a longitudinal study on the long-term effects on brain trauma in women’s sports called SHINE, which stands for Soccer, Head Impacts and Neurological Effects. The SHINE study, the first of its kind in women’s sports, will study 20 former women’s pro soccer players as they age.

All of these efforts are good, positive developments. But the scientists still need the source material, the brains, to be able to do their work properly. Which is why high-profile players going public with their concussion history and intentions of donating their brains is so important.

“I love the game of soccer,” Chastain says. “I want to make sure that players are safe. It just is a reasonable, responsible thing to do. The outcome, hopefully, will give us some information, good or bad. It will give us some perspective which will help us make better choices.”

Akers puts it more simply. “When I die, they can have my brain,” she says. “Good luck.”

There's a gender gap in sports concussion research. Here's how Abby Wambach and other USWNT icons are trying to fix it
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