Archive for May 16th, 2011

Pro Hockey Player Derek Boogaard Is Dead. So Is Amateur Football Player Nathan Stiles.

Derek Boogaard of the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers, a notorious brawler who had been sidelined since December with a concussion, has been found dead at 28 and his family has donated his brain to the Boston chronic traumatic encephalopathy research group headed by Chris Nowinski and Dr. Robert Cantu.

Meanwhile, Laura Bauer of the Kansas City Star has been writing a multi-part series on Nathan Stiles, a high school football player from Spring Hill, Missouri, who died from a head injury at 17. Here are the links:

Below is the text of an email to the Star’s Bauer by Missouri writer Matt Chaney, author of Spiral of Denial: Muscle Doping in American Football, who is now reporting on the sports concussion crisis.


Your current series on the Nathan Stiles tragedy is a fine tribute to a family, their religion and forgiveness—because this story is about forgiveness, of a mistake by someone or something, given the fact Nathan DID return to football when he shouldn’t have.

Football’s invalid and unreliable concussion “guidelines” and/or “testing” failed Nathan, Laura, even if he misled people to think he was asymptomatic of his first concussion and ready to return.

I have spoken on-record with Dr. Robert Cantu of Boston about Nathan’s case, in a tape-recorded telephone interview, and I continue to communicate with Dr. Bennet Omalu in California. These experts represent the two research labs currently analyzing Nathan’s case postmortem.

Yes, the subdural hematoma Nathan suffered in the Oct. 28 game killed him, led to his death the following morning.

However, Nathan also suffered a RE-BLEED or ‘second-impact’ concussion on Oct. 28, which, barring further lab results, means Dr. Ratzlaff’s “guidelines” failed–or football’s current “concussion management” failed–and everyone missed the apparent fact Nathan was still suffering trauma of his original Oct. 1 concussion when he was returned to play on Oct. 22 and 28.

This is Dr. Cantu’s exchange with me on Dec. 21, 2010, regarding his research’s group work to that point with Nathan’s brain slides:

Cantu: “His original CT was normal…

Chaney: “Right.”

Cantu: “And he took additional trauma and that CT showed a subdural.”

Chaney: “I’ll be darn. Yeah, see the news reports–I couldn’t quite jibe all that , because several reports are stating that the subdural hematoma was result of the October 1 incident, and then it was missed leading up to his first return to action on the 22nd. So under your understanding, the subdural occurred on the second impact, perhaps–or a second impact, perhaps?”

Cantu: “A second impact, and whether there was any bleeding in between–and then the bleeding got a great deal worse–that we don’t know. … He played the final game of the season, and in that one suffered a combined second-impact [concussion] and a subdural, both.”

Chaney: “Wow. Isn’t that something. And there’s one that got by [concussion testing]. Is it fair to say there’s just so much we still don’t know? About managing these situations? How do you feel about it today? The state of concussion management, especially in a vast environment of athletes like tackle football in the United States?”

Cantu: “I think the most important thing, Matt, is… and I’ve talked with Mrs. Stiles, Connie Stiles, and she tells me that [Nathan] was not telling her he had symptoms. I really wonder whether that’s accurate [no symptoms]. … I have a very hard time thinking he was asymptomatic.”

Chaney: “Right, right. So it really takes some specialized training here…”

Cantu: “I think so, and it takes honesty on the part of the individual as they’re symptomatic with headache, nausea, on and on and on, to come forward with it. It’s not safe to play with it.”

Bottom line, Laura, Mr. And Mrs. Stiles have every right to forgive and forget here. But more preventable second-impacts will happen in prep football, with or without catastrophic injury like a subdural, because “concussion testing” and “guidelines” are invalid, missing countless still-concussed athletes by rates of 25 to 50 percent, according to numerous reviewing experts worldwide.

What must be adopted for juvenile concussed athletes is a mandatory layoff of at least 1 to 3 months, proposed in varying lengths by brain experts like Omalu, Dr. Lester Mayers and Dr. Randall Benson. THAT would have saved Nathan’s life from football mortality as a teenager.

No one has the right to stifle or distort that message. No one. Other football families must be properly informed.

Matt Chaney

Irv’s Tweets

May 2011