Philadelphia 76ers Coach Doug Collins, NBA Want You To Be Concussion Aware

Lake CruiseAnalyst ISeptember 8, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 21:  Head coach Doug Collins of the Philadelphia 76ers during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Miami Heat during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 21, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Will 76ers players, coaches, trainers, towel boys and cheerleaders be forced to wear lightweight leather helmets to reduce the risk of concussions? Could we be seeing the beginnings of roller derby hoops?

I doubt it, but I guess anything is possible in this plastic roller coaster of a world.

The hard plastic-helmeted NFL and NHL have policies concerning the protection, treatment and rehabilitation of those suffering from concussions and head injuries. Still, we’ve seen the situation where athletes get them but don’t realize it.

In conjunction with Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital in Malvern, Pa. on September 12, Collins is scheduled to try to make more people aware of how to recognize, prevent and treat concussions. He’ll appear at the hospital starting at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Collins’ goal is to help change the concussion environment, to educate athletes, doctors and anyone else interested about the intricacies of concussions. He speaks from experience, and he probably wouldn’t wish the occurrence on his worst enemies.

That’s why he’s taken up the cause like a national spokesman for concussion awareness. Collins will probably talk about his own well-documented symptoms and how rehabbing quickly helped him.

In May of 2010, he reportedly fell at a coffee shop in Arizona and concussed himself. He continued to experience headaches, dizzy spells, ringing in his ears and chronic fatigue. At first, the coach thought his indicators were due to low blood pressure.

He sat out two exhibition games, but he continued to exhibit symptoms of a concussion. After being diagnosed with vertigo, Collins stayed true to his rehab regimen and didn't suffer any relapses for the remainder of the 2010-11 season.

One of his assistant coaches, Aaron McKie, has spoken up about his mild concussion that he didn’t know about until he started spitting up blood.

Other NBA players and coaches are also becoming vocal. Guys like Andrew Bogut, John Salmons, Tyreke Evans and coaches like Byron Scott and Kurt Rambis have been relating their experiences with concussions.

Presently, the NBA tracks concussions and head injuries, but leaves it up to teams to determine the guidelines for when a player can return to the court. Some teams give out handbooks and conduct regular tests.

Analogous to the NFL and the NHL, the NBA Team Physicians Society reportedly has been researching concussion-related issues for years.

After superstar point guard Chris Paul’s story surfaced, I figured the NBA would be looking to instill a policy. Last March in Cleveland, CP3 was strapped down on a mobile stretcher for precautionary measures and carted off the basketball court like I’ve seen so many football players taken off the gridiron.

He was diagnosed with a concussion.

After watching him stay down after a collision for a loose ball and be attended to from both team’s trainers, some players were scared straight and spoke out about what a wise move it would be for the NBA to establish a policy. With more research, planning, and public campaigns from key figures like Collins in the works, the policy should happen.

It gets tricky when policy takes away from the game’s action. That’s the criticism of the NFL’s helmet-to-helmet hits regulations and new kickoff rules.

While professional basketball isn’t as violent as either football or hockey, I’m sure the NBA’s new waves of younger owners want to legally cover themselves from class-action lawsuits like the one filed against the NFL in August by a group led by Jim McMahon.

Contrary to seeking monetary compensation, the group wants the NFL to provide better services to reduce the risk of the long term effects from concussions and brain injuries.

Several high-profile NHL players’ head injuries and at least one death of a formerly concussed NFL player, it has been alleged, have added flames to the fires of discussion. I can’t confirm reports of concussion-related deaths among athletes; I’m not a doctor. Yet, I know this issue deserves immediate and undivided attention.

While the subject of concussions among NBA athletes is finally coming to the forefront and bringing the public along with it, so should psychological issues be front and center. I pray that day soon arrives.

If at the same time the public can be educated by Collins and others, then a great service is being provided. The professional leagues could also benefit from the perception that big business cares about your health.

Big government, regardless of who the president is, could end up owning big business, medical doctors, neurologists and therapists. But, that’s a different article. You, my dear readers, should own your awareness about concussions for your family’s sake.

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