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Post by AsLongAsBut100ofUs on Mon 19 Mar 2012, 8:33 am

Former Scotland and B&I Lion, John Beattie will donate his brain to neuroscience when he dies so that the effects of a long rugby career may be studied in greater detail. From today's Hootsmon:

I fear I’ve suffered brain damage - John Beattie

By SHÂN ROSS

SCOTLAND rugby legend John Beattie will donate his brain to neuroscience after he dies, so doctors can study the effects of heavy knocks to the head sustained during his playing career.

Beattie, 54, who is now a broadcaster with BBC Radio Scotland, took the decision after hearing new evidence suggesting rugby players’ brains may suffer the same long-term injuries sustained by boxers.

Beattie said one tackle during Scotland’s record 33-6 victory over England at Murrayfield in 1986 left him “seeing stars”. He quickly recovered, but now fears bruising encounters may have caused unseen damage.

The former No 8 forward, who has forged a media career since retiring from the game 25 years ago, first became concerned while researching the subject for a documentary to be broadcast today.

Beattie revealed he fears for his son, Johnnie, also a Scotland internationalist, and his daughter, Jenny, who plays elite football for Arsenal and Scotland ladies.

He said: “I have to be detached when I watch my son play. I want him, and Jennifer, to come out the other end unscathed.

“I quit rugby in my late twenties. I was never knocked out or taken to hospital, and I think my brain works. What I’ve found out is that the little bumps I took as a matter of course over 20 years might have affected my brain, and maybe rugby players need to be more aware of that unseen damage.”

On another occasion Beattie’s head was hit by the knee of an opposition player and his “whole world started swimming”.

“After the game I remember being in the bath with terrible visual disturbance,” he said. “You’re almost blind, thinking ‘I’ve got to sit quietly here because I can’t see, and pretend I’m OK, and then wait for it to go’.”

He added: “I remember sitting a couple of times in a bar in my local club, thinking, ‘I can’t actually see’. It seemed to start at the side of my eyes and then come across with lights and flashes.

Beattie is arranging a brain scan at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow “in the next few months”.

After his death, neuropathologists there will carry out a biopsy and attempt to isolate the cause of any brain injuries to rugby, so the risks of playing contact sports might be better understood for future generations.

“Sport is a fantastic thing, but if my brain can help protect young players, and raise awareness of the risks, then I’m happy,” Beattie said. “I’m going to get some of my rugby pals to offer theirs, too.”

Dr Willie Stewart, consultant neuropathologist at the Southern General, said: “We’ve known for years that boxers can have problems with head injuries – dementia pugilistica, or punch drunk syndrome, where boxers develop long-term problems with memory and a dementia-like illness.

“More recently, though, our colleagues in America have encountered a similar type of abnormality in the brains of people who have played other contact sports.”

Dr Stewart, who has studied brain samples in Glasgow, added: “The brain at rest is like soft jelly. If you apply sudden force, like a knee hitting a head, a car or a baseball bat, that sudden acceleration changes the brain into something much more rigid and prone to damage.

“Proteins can build up which are very similar to the proteins you see with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“Until reasonably recently, we thought that damage went away after a few weeks. What we’ve more recently identified is that actually some of that damage can carry on for many years.

“The outcome is a combination of how hard you are hit combined with some genetic associations. The other thing is how often you hit it.”

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Post by Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler on Mon 19 Mar 2012, 8:54 am

Maybe Andy Robinson could donate his now.

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Post by doctor_grey on Mon 19 Mar 2012, 9:38 am

As,
Thank you for posting this. In the past, MrsP and I have occasionally gone back and forth discussing the impact of brain trauma and a little about how to build in some safeguards to make Rugby a safer game, especially for our kids. This cannot be underestimated. I have had a few concussions, one of which was very serious, but that was when I was in my early 20s and awareness was not great.

We have quite a few people here who are in the 18-25 year bracket. I would like to hear from you folks about how was concussion testing performed, or even just how was information shared at your clubs when you were playing. If you don't want to name a club publicly, please send a PM.

I heard previously what John Beattie was doing and I think its great. Hopefully for his sake, we don't get the body for 30, 40 years or more. Its still interesting for me to see that American Football has the highest rate of concussive trauma compared to any other mainstream sport, Rugby included. Perhaps a bit late to the game, the NFL is funding huge and effective studies into how to diagnose, treat, and prevent these kinds of injuries.

Yesterday my lads were playing and the referee called off the match with ten minutes to go due to repeated high tackles by the other team. This was good. More about that later, if I get a minute.



Last edited by doctor_grey on Mon 19 Mar 2012, 9:49 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Thomond on Mon 19 Mar 2012, 9:43 am

Peter Seabiscuit Wheeler wrote:Maybe Andy Robinson could donate his now.

To donate your brain, you would have to have one.

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Post by MrsP on Mon 19 Mar 2012, 9:55 am

Asbo,

Good to see you at least considering joining me up here on my high horse on this issue. (Dr Grey used to have a high horse too but he swapped it for the Bat Mobile!)

This is one of the biggest issues facing our players and yet it is very little talked about. It breaks my heart when I see Professional players get up, shake their head and play on after they have been knocked out.

I too would be very interested in hearing how much players have been informed about what should and shouldn't happen after you have taken a knock on the head.

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Post by MrsP on Mon 19 Mar 2012, 10:08 am

Just incase anyone needs to read them, here are the IRB's guidelines.

Actually, scratch that!



EVERYBODY NEEDS TO READ THEM!



http://www.irbplayerwelfare.com/?documentid=3

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Post by AsLongAsBut100ofUs on Mon 19 Mar 2012, 10:29 am

MrsP wrote:Asbo,

Good to see you at least considering joining me up here on my high horse on this issue. (Dr Grey used to have a high horse too but he swapped it for the Bat Mobile!)

This is one of the biggest issues facing our players and yet it is very little talked about. It breaks my heart when I see Professional players get up, shake their head and play on after they have been knocked out.

I too would be very interested in hearing how much players have been informed about what should and shouldn't happen after you have taken a knock on the head.
Only if you are dressed like Lady Godiva Wink heart

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Post by MrsP on Mon 19 Mar 2012, 10:42 am

A very appropriate analogy.

A lady who was prepared to ride her high horse around the town, regardless of the potential embarrassment, for the good of the people.

As long as....we are only talking "virtually" that is!

Seriously though. Thanks for giving us another chance to discuss this very important topic!

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Post by Thomond on Mon 19 Mar 2012, 1:49 pm

It is a very important topic, I know it is a different sport but I suppose the physicality is similar. David Duerson committed suicide after suffering from a condition believed to be linked to concussions he was a former NFL player and he has now donated his brain to research on the disease. I wrote a bit about Duerson in the penultimate paragraph here, Player safety has become a big issue particualrly after this controversy.: http://www.sportpulse.net/content/bounty-gate-story-new-orleans-defence-2998

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Post by eirebilly on Wed 21 Mar 2012, 7:34 am

I think that it is a very serious discussion but at the same time, what are you going to do. Rugby is a high contact sport and head injuries will happen. Its a risk that is known but falls under the category 'wont happen to me'.

I have long been an advocate for independant doctors at matches so that when a player goes down, a doctor with no club/country relationship can make an independant assessment of a player. More often than not a blind eye is turned to these injuries.
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Post by RDW on Wed 21 Mar 2012, 8:33 pm

Guys, this is really topical for me as I spent the night in hospital last night with a fairly severe concussion I got at rugby training.

I don't remember anything but apparently I tried to tackle our 19 stone prop and he kicked me in the face!

I'll come back with some more details and opinions tomorrow as I'm still pretty fussy and not overly with it!

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Post by MrsP on Wed 21 Mar 2012, 9:13 pm

RDW,

You need to rest physically and mentally until that fuzziness has gone.

That is the most important thing now.

You have seen the doctor and been assessed and now you must rest.

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Post by RDW on Wed 21 Mar 2012, 9:46 pm

Planning on! Bugger going to work... Very Happy

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Post by MrsP on Wed 21 Mar 2012, 9:56 pm

Good man!

thumbsup thumbsup

(If you can see 2 thumbs up you are definately not ready to return to work)


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Post by AsLongAsBut100ofUs on Wed 21 Mar 2012, 10:06 pm

RDW, take it easy, bud, take your time with your recovery OK

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Post by Guest on Wed 21 Mar 2012, 10:30 pm

eep just seen this, hope you're okay RDW, take care and rest up mate.

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Post by doctor_grey on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 12:47 am

Mate,
Real sorry, just saw this. Please let me know the diagnosis.
No booze, limited coffee, nothing else. Two weeks minimum.
Drink a lot of Powerade/Gatorade.
No heavy lifting. Nothing to increase blood pressure.
Its completely normal not to remember what happened. Don't worry about that.

Do you need anything????????? Questions? Concerns? Anything.

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Post by aucklandlaurie on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 1:19 am

general question for the doc.
Although RDW has not complained of any headaches,would it not be a rule of the thumb to suggest he takes a panadol/aspirin type medication before/whilst resting,presuming it wasnt contrary to any other medication he may already taking for any other issues?

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Post by doctor_grey on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 1:34 am

I generally don't like suggesting any medication without knowing a bit more info. Aspirin and other NSAIDS can cause some blood thinning and bleeding. So I don't think they are a good idea here, especially without more knowledge (presence of intracranial leakage/bleeding, etc.). Therefore, I wouldn't suggest anything more than paracetemol (Panadol), which at 1 gram dosage x 4 times daily dosage should be benign. Hopefully the docs at the hospital took care of everything.

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Post by aucklandlaurie on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 1:41 am

Doc
thanx Doc.

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Post by eirebilly on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 8:41 am

I was always advised against taking meds when concussed, certainly no NSAIDS?

I was also told that when i was concussed and wanted to sleep that someone should wake me up every hour to see how i was.
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Post by doctor_grey on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 8:48 am

Billy, usually just for the first night. Every few hours is OK because the sleep is important, too. However, in the immediate aftermath, if someone feeels the urge to sleep, then they should be walked around, slowly, but regularly. On the way to being checked.

But, as we both said, no aspirin, no NSAIDS. And that used to be taken/suggested as common practice after a head knock not that long ago.

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Post by eirebilly on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 8:53 am

Cheers doc. I have had more than enough knocks to the head in my life Very Happy
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Post by RDW on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 12:03 pm

Right - here is my story!

So my story is a 2nd hand one as I don't remember any of it, I am just repeating what my family and friends on Facebook have informed me.

So apparently is was near the end of training on Tuesday night and, as we often do on Tuesdays, we were finishing off on a bit of a beasting with 8 v 8 on a fairly small pitch, full contact.

Apparently I went to tackle our 19 stone behemoth of a prop and got a kick in the face for my troubles, on the under side of my jaw. I wasn't knocked out, but had a fairly deep cut just on the inside of my right jaw bone, so obviously got hit by a stud.

My dad then took me to the physio to get it cleaned up and it is that point in which they started to be concerned about the head knock. Apparently I couldn't remember anything - what had happened, how I got there, what day it was, where I was that kind of thing.

My dad then drove me to my folks' home in his car (my car was left) and my girlfriend got dropped off there too. They then phoned NHS 24 for advise and they advised them to take me to hospital. Apparently I was going to the toilet a lot too, although that may have been because I had drunk a lot of water instead of a symptom of a head knock....

So I arrived at A&E where I was constantly repeated myself to my dad and girlfriend and kept not knowing what was happening. Each team they told me I tackled the big prop I high fived my dad cause he was a beast! They were obviously pretty concerned at this point.

So I finally saw a doctor who did various tests on me and decided I had to get a CT scan, and that they'd keep me in over night to monitor me and take my blood pressure every hour. I had no memory at all and was constantly repeating my self so they were pretty concerned at that point. they took me to a ward and got me on a hospital bed.

It must have been 3 in the morning when my dad and girlfriend were told to just go home, and that I'd be taken for my scan. Apparently I was very upset throughout the night, but don't remember that. Made my dad and girflriend fairly upset too!

So they took me for a CT scan, which I don't remember at all - don't even remember how I got to the scanner! I went to the toilet a couple of times and each time I looked in the mirror and saw the cut on my jaw and thought "ooh how did that happen??" - must have done that a few time! I was then taken back to my bed and told to try and sleep, which I think I did.

I then woke up at about 8am having periodically woken up to have them take my blood pressure. I had no idea where I was and what had happened - I didn't even know what hospital! My dad and girlfriend and phoned about 4am to get the results of the CT scan, which didn't show anything wrong.

What then followed was a really strange morning where my brain tried to piece itself back together. I literally remembered nothing and even had difficulties remembering things like what had happened in the 6N - had Scotland played Italy yet? How did we do in the other games? To be fair that was probably a good thing to forget!

I ate some breakfast, including the worlds most sugary cup of tea, and started looking on my phone to jog my memory. I was surprised to see it was March - had no idea! I couldn't remember sending txt messages from the day before and my emails made no sense to me.

I then put on Facebook that I was in hospital and didn't know why!

A consultant then came to see me, along with a haggle of med students, including an Irish guy who played rugby himself who gave me some banter.

I was then booted out my bed at around 9am for another patient (got to love the NHS!) and waited for my mum and girlfriend to arrive. We then waited for hours for the official report on my CT scan to allow me to go home.

I was extremely sleepy - very similar to jet lag when I arrived home from New Zealand - and spent most the afternoon dozing on the couch. Had a good sleep last night and here I am today!

So the overwhelming thing from this experience is the strangeness of the memory loss. During the night I had vague recollections of things but they seemed like they had happened weeks ago. I read emails and txt messages and, when they started making more sense, again it seemed like it was in the distant past!

My mum and girlfriend jogged my memory quite a lot, explaining to me the events of the past few days. each time they said something it was like a light being turned on in my mind!

I still don't remember much from the last few days and I just feel a bit wierd. I've avoided a sore head throughout the entire time, which is strange, but the memory loss and confusion were very real and scary.

I'm off work now, probably for the rest of the week, and as far as I am concerned that is my season over as there are only 3 games left.

Sorry if this is a bit of a lengthy post and if I have repeated myself at all. If anyone has any questions I'm happy to answer them!

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Post by Guest on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 1:50 pm

blimey RDW, that memory loss thing sounds pretty bloody scary. Glad your CT scan came back clear though. Guess just rest yourself up and keep talking to people for reminders.

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Post by Effervescing Elephant on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 1:56 pm

So you don't remember that £20 you borrowed from me then... Sorry, couldn't resist, hope you're feeling much better now. Head knocks are definitely a trip to the land of the surreal!
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Post by RDW on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 2:30 pm

Carpe Diem wrote:So you don't remember that £20 you borrowed from me then... Sorry, couldn't resist, hope you're feeling much better now. Head knocks are definitely a trip to the land of the surreal!


3rd person to crack that joke! Very Happy

Thanks folks.

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Post by Effervescing Elephant on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 2:46 pm

The old ones are still the old ones! Smile
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Post by The Mangler US_UK on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 4:27 pm

Rest up RDW and hope you're symptom free.

Head injuries are an inherent risk with contact sports, but must be taken seriously. It's only relatively recently that people are realizing the long-term implications of repeated head injuries. When I was young, if you took a knock on the head, you sat out a bit and then back into the fray if possible. Got a concussion the first time I played rugby (accidental boot to the head).

Dunno how you get around the fact there will be concussions, even with protective equipment like in American Football it happens. In the late 19th early 20th century, when American Football (pre-helmet days) was more of a running game like rugby, there were a lot of head injuries and a high number of deaths each years, so many, in fact, that President Teddy Roosevelt was fearful the game would be banned in the universities. Anyway, head protection was eventually introduced, first leather helmets and then high-impact plastics, which reduced fatalities and offered protection, but also impacted how the game was played because players got a false sense of security. And even with helmets, AF players still suffer a lot of concussions because it does offer a degree of protection, so they go in hard, but it also becomes a bit of a weapon.

I was reading that Dave Duerson shot himself in the heart so that they could study his brain. They did find brain damage -- unfortunately, it's the type that can only be discovered by staining brain tissue with a dye, so no way to check for it while alive (as of yet I believe).

Anyway, you can only make contact games so safe. There will always be some risk, but what we have to do is stay vigilant and make sure players use proper form and minimize risky play and if there is even the suspicion someone is concussed, they need to be pulled from the game and honestly evaluated.

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Post by gboycottnut on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 4:31 pm

What about dontaing other organs of the body for future medical research such as the balls or the bagsnatch as Bob Dwyer famously termed it, to see what long term effects are caused from playing against those Neath players who famously used these dirty underhand tactics against Dwyer's Australians in 1992.

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Post by SecretFly on Thu 22 Mar 2012, 8:03 pm

For reassurance (or otherwise) on the prevalence of this one or not, do a scan of aging players from the old days. I don't mean a scientific scan but just dip into the lives of existing old players, know where they played, what kind of rough and tumble they sustained in their careers and see what quality of life they now have.

See how old they get, the kind of illnesses they suffer from and the quality of life they themselves describe.

If a study of this nature was done, we might be able to form a more rounded picture of the percentages of players who get through their older life free from the effects of rugby and unfortunately perhaps unearth a serious connection between mental health conditions later in life and the rugby history of those people.

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Post by The Mangler US_UK on Fri 23 Mar 2012, 1:29 am

I guess they'd need to compare a population of aging players with the general population to see if they have a higher incidence of cognitive problems as they age.

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Post by aucklandlaurie on Fri 23 Mar 2012, 1:39 am

Jeez RDW,what your talking about is a lot more serious than I first appreciated.

Your coach/trainer werent particularly helpful then?

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Post by eirebilly on Fri 23 Mar 2012, 7:06 am

Just checking in see how you're doing there RDW. Hope that you are improving Very Happy
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Post by RDW on Fri 23 Mar 2012, 8:36 am

Doing better thanks guys. Still had some memory loss yesterday from things id been told earlier in the day, and have been really tired, but my head is a bit clearer!

I wouldn't say my coaches were unhelpful - cause my dad was at the training session he took control of me so the coaches didn't need to do anything. I was taken to the physio to clean up the cut on my jaw and that was then I started getting confused and forgetful. Apparently I wasnt knocked out on the pitch or anything.

Ah well, another day off work today!

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Post by AsLongAsBut100ofUs on Fri 23 Mar 2012, 9:47 am

Take it easy there, RDW - feet up for you, hopefully some S15 for you to watch on t'internet

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Post by eirebilly on Fri 23 Mar 2012, 10:19 am

I have, from past experience, been effectivily knocked out without loosing consious RDW.

Take care there mate and get well OK
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