05.28.08

Skull Docs : Mets Endangered Church

Posted in Baseball, Medical Science at 3:09 pm by

An MRI of Ryan Church’s head revealed nothing (hey, some of us could’ve told you that a few years ago), but the New York Times’ Alan Schwarz solicited expert medical testimony charging the Mets with gross irresponsibility in allowing the outfielder to pinch-hit after suffering his 2nd concussion in two months.

Several experts in sports-related concussions said that Church ” who has told reporters that he has had a headache and has felt dizzy and tired almost every day since his injury ” should not have been allowed to play at all because his symptoms had not cleared.

The experts said common guidelines for concussion management require that athletes be free of symptoms ” sometimes for several days ” both before and after physical exertion before they can return to competition. They also said that because Church had sustained a more severe concussion in spring training that cost him a week, the risks for him were greater.

œThat™s a situation that could be very dangerous, said Dr. Mickey Collins, assistant director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Sports Medicine™s concussion program. œI haven™t examined this player personally, but if there were a second trauma to a person still experiencing symptoms, the risk could be much higher to a player™s health because he hasn™t healed from the first concussion.

Dr. Robert Cantu of Brigham and Women™s Hospital in Boston, one of the nation™s leading experts in concussion management, said: œYou™re playing roulette with your patient. You know the chances of him having another concussion are low, but you™re running the risk of exacerbating the symptoms that he does have. Now a person who would be asymptomatic in a week or two can have those symptoms go on for many months.

œIt™s his call, Randolph said. He added: œHe™s been feeling a little bit groggy, and most of what he feels is that uneasiness with his total, you know, mind. It™s kind of weird because he feels like he™s kind of foggy. He says he can hit, he can do that. But in the outfield, he™s unstable out there.

Randolph added: œWhen you™re talking about head injuries, I™m pretty lame on that. I don™t even know how to respond to, you know, when we can put him out there.

Church has gone 1 for 4 as a pinch-hitter since the concussion. Before almost every game, he has told reporters of symptoms. At one point he said, œI™m just sick of feeling like this.

After sustaining a concussion in July 2006 while playing for the Brewers, Corey Koskie attempted to come back despite symptoms including headaches, dizziness and nausea. He experienced far more severe symptoms for six months, and eventually had to retire.

œThat™s pretty much the reason I™m here today ” thinking I could play through it, Koskie said in a telephone interview from his home in Minnesota.

Regarding Church, he added: œI think he™s nuts. He doesn™t want to get to the point where he™s not going to get better. Tell him to call me. It™s not worth it.

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