David Matlin remembers being dazed when he was hit in the head by a pitched baseball in a game nearly 40 years ago.
He didn’t know then he’d just incurred a concussion. All he knew was he wanted to stay in the game.
Back then, the closest thing to the baseline testing of today was someone, often a coach and not a trained medical professional, asking you how many fingers he was holding in front of your face.
“I guessed three, and I was right,” Matlin said. “So he patted me on the butt and I ran down to first base. I was just happy I got to keep playing.”
Today, as the University of Hawaii athletic director, Matlin knows how dangerous concussions can be for student-athletes, and that it is imperative that all concussions symptoms are reported, diagnosed and managed properly.
One reason they are under-reported by athletes is that the players fear being benched — maybe for an entire season, or even a career — if they are diagnosed with a concussion.
But, as reported in our two-day series on concussions that starts in Sunday’s paper, that is not necessarily the case. Recent medical research shows that getting people who suffer from concussions moving sooner (usually with light cardiovascular exercise) than previously thought prudent can, in many cases, help them recover from the injury quicker and better.
That doesn’t mean, for example, that a football player would return to contact practices immediately. But it is still good news.
There is still a lot for researchers to learn about traumatic brain injury, which includes concussions. And, of course, responsible athletic trainers, doctors and coaches will always stick to “when in doubt, sit them out.”
There is no cure, and no sure-fire way to diagnose them. But advancement being made in concussion research, and in Monday’s paper we report how the state of Hawaii contributes to that progress.