Recent concussion research allows many to get moving sooner

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.


  1. iGrokSpock April 2, 2018 11:04 am

    I figure that I must have had at least three concussions back in the day, when we didn’t know what a concussion was. First was as a little kid, playing in a big box and while standing I made the box fall backwards and I hit my head upon landing. I don’t remember how long I may have been unconscious. Next was while in high school I was playing a friendly game of tackle football with friends, was tackled from behind and hit my head. At least I had the sense not to get back into the game, but I sure was woozy after waking up. Last was playing softball and konked heads with the first baseman after hitting a bouncer that he misfielded. That one I was out too. Too bad I can’t use this as an excuse with my wife, but these are possible reasons why my memory is not so good. I’m glad that the sports community has made such advancements, although it would not have helped me since none of those injuries were incurred from playing organized sports. Thanks for the really good information Dave.

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