Four years ago, Preston Plevretes played in a football game for La Salle University a month after an earlier concussion. He collided head-on with an opposing player on a punt return at Duquesne University on Nov. 5, 2005. He was briefly knocked unconscious, awoke and was combative for a few minutes, then lapsed into a coma. He now spends his days mostly silent in a wheelchair, requiring the assistance of a home-health aid. Robert Cantu, M.D., a renowned Boston neurosurgeon who testified earlier this year at the Congressional hearings on NFL concussions, believes Preston’s first concussion was not treated properly by the school, causing the later devastating brain damage from "second-impact syndrome."
Should concussions be taken more seriously? The NFL finally believes so. And, after years of evidence from concussed Iraq War veterans, so does the Pentagon. I wonder if college and high school coaches comprehend the problem. I understand that we do not yet know all the details surrounding the suspension of Texas Tech coach, Mike Leach, for allegedly confining one of his players who suffered a concussion to a dark utility room. If the story, as reported by ESPN, is true, it would appear that the coach was ostracizing the player for complaining of a concussion. Coach Leach claims there is another side to the story, and there may well be. I simply hope that he and all coaches take note of the statements of Dr. Cantu concerning what happened to Preston Plevretes:
He enters the game symptomatic (for concussion). That sets him up for another injury causing this malignant brain swelling," he said. Once a person is vulnerable, additional brain trauma does not always have to be severe to cause devastating damage, Cantu said.
"The second blow may be remarkably minor, perhaps only involving a blow to the chest that jerks the athlete’s head and indirectly imparts accelerative forces to the brain," Cantu wrote. Death can occur within minutes when the brain ruptures from the brain stem.