New research into why woodpeckers don’t get concussions busts a popular myth

Slow-motion video of pecking by the pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus). The original video was recorded at 1600 frames per second. Credit: Robert Shadwick & Erica Ortlieb/University of British Columbia

Check out almost any popular science article about woodpeckers and you’ll likely find some mention of why the birds don’t seem to suffer concussions, despite energetically drumming away at tree trunks all day with their beaks. Conventional wisdom holds that the structure of the woodpecker’s skull and beak acts as a kind of built-in shock absorber, protecting the bird from injury. But a new paper published in the journal Current Biology argues that this is incorrect and that woodpecker heads behave more like stiff hammers than shock absorbers.

“While filming the woodpeckers in zoos, I have witnessed parents explaining to their kids that woodpeckers don’t get headaches because they have shock absorbers built into their head,” said co-author Sam Van Wassenbergh of Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium. “This myth of shock absorption in woodpeckers is now busted by our findings.”

As for why this particular myth has endured for so long, Van Wassenbergh told Ars, “To us humans, the first thing that comes to our mind when watching an animal violently smashing their head against trees is to wish the animal had some kind of a built-in cushioning to prevent it from getting headaches or concussions. It is logical for us to think of such action in terms of protection and safety, as if it is an accident.”

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#animals, #biology, #biomechanics, #concussions, #evolutionary-biology, #physics, #science, #woodpeckers

NFL Players Participate in a Study That Might Predict CTE Decline

In a study, Dr. Jennifer Coughlin observed brain activity that may help predict the onset of trauma-related illnesses and cognitive decline. N.F.L. players are helping to further her research.

#brain, #chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy, #concussions, #football, #johns-hopkins-university, #martin-jonathan-1989, #research

Rayfield Wright, Cowboys’ Hall of Fame Lineman, Dies at 76

He was an All-Pro right tackle in the 1970s. But in retirement he was diagnosed with dementia, which he linked to repeated hits to the head.

#concussions, #dallas-cowboys, #deaths-obituaries, #dementia, #halls-of-fame, #national-football-league, #wright-rayfield

Concussions Doctor Under Scrutiny in Plagiarism Scandal

Paul McCrory helped write the bible of concussion treatment recommendations. But when he was accused of plagiarizing, many scientists took aim at his relationships to the sports leagues he advised.

#australian-football-league, #brain, #british-journal-of-sports-medicine, #chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy, #concussion-in-sports-group, #concussions, #content-type-personal-profile, #ethics-and-official-misconduct, #mccrory-paul, #medicine-and-health, #plagiarism, #retraction-watch

The Hidden Epidemic of Brain Injuries From Domestic Violence

Research shows that survivors of abuse can sustain head trauma more often than football players. But they are almost never diagnosed.

#brain, #chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy, #concussions, #domestic-violence, #post-traumatic-stress-disorder, #psychology-and-psychologists, #sports-injuries, #traumatic-brain-injury

The CTE Link Between Players from the 1972 Miami Dolphins

Nick Buoniconti, Jim Kiick and Jake Scott, of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, were each found to have C.T.E., the brain disease linked to head hits, bringing to six the number of players diagnosed from that team.

#buoniconti-nick, #chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy, #concussions, #content-type-personal-profile, #dementia, #elderly, #football, #kiick-james-1946-2020, #miami-dolphins, #national-football-league, #scott-jake-1945-2020

‘Don’t Write It Off’: Advice From Brain Injury Experts After Bob Saget’s Death

People who find themselves alone after a significant knock to the head are at higher risk of harm.

#brain, #chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy, #concussions, #deaths-fatalities, #falls, #head-body-part, #saget-bob, #skull-body-part, #traumatic-brain-injury

In Luge and Skeleton the Goal Is to Go Fast. Just Not Too Fast.

Technology and safety are colliding in sliding sports, where sleds made for speed are finding tracks built to slow them down.

#beijing-china, #bobsledding, #concussions, #headaches, #jovanovic-pavle, #luge-racing, #olympic-games, #olympic-games-2022, #skeleton-sport, #suicides-and-suicide-attempts, #traumatic-brain-injury

Football Players Still Get Concussions, but We Don’t Seem to Care

We seem to have lost our faith that we can make things better.

#buffalo-bills, #chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy, #concussions, #football, #internal-sub-only-nl, #kansas-city-chiefs, #national-football-league, #nfl-redzone-tv-program

Vincent Jackson’s Widow Hopes Speaking About His C.T.E. Warning Signs Will Help Others

The ex-N.F.L. player Vincent Jackson was found dead in a hotel room days after his former team won the Super Bowl. In light of his C.T.E. diagnosis, his widow recounted Jackson’s decline.

#alcohol-abuse, #boston-university, #brain, #chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy, #concussions, #content-type-personal-profile, #football, #national-football-league, #tampa-fla, #tampa-bay-buccaneers, #vincent-jackson

N.F.L. Concussion Settlement to Eliminate Race as Factor

The revised agreement eliminates race as a consideration in evaluating dementia claims by former players.

#black-people, #chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy, #concussions, #davenport-najeh-1979, #discrimination, #henry-kevin-1968, #national-football-league, #philadelphia-pa, #race-and-ethnicity

Will Injured Kids Sue the Catholic Church Over Youth Football?

Denny Doyle is concerned about the risk of brain injuries to children who play tackle football. And he worries that his beloved church will also pay a price.

#catholic-youth-organization, #cincinnati-ohio, #concussions, #content-type-personal-profile, #football, #roman-catholic-church, #sports-injuries

Nearly Silenced by A.L.S., an Ex-N.F.L. Pro Thrives Telling His Story

Tim Green uses his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative nervous system disorder, and his eight-year N.F.L. career as inspiration for his best-selling books.

#amyotrophic-lateral-sclerosis, #atlanta-falcons, #concussions, #content-type-personal-profile, #football, #green-tim-1963

Should You Boycott the N.F.L.?

Football is giving players brain damage. Is it time to stop watching?

#audio-neutral-informative, #college-football-playoff-national-championship, #concussions, #goodell-roger, #national-football-league

CIA officer from bin Laden hunt to lead Havana Syndrome probe as cases rise

A beautifully maintained car from the '50s drives past a Brutalist skyscraper.

Enlarge / Picture of the US embassy in Havana, taken on October 3, 2017. (credit: Getty | YAMIL LAGE)

An undercover Central Intelligence Agency officer who helped hunt down Osama bin Laden will now lead the agency task force charged with investigating the mysterious health incidents that continue to plague US personnel, according to a report Wednesday from The Wall Street Journal.

The incidents, first reported in 2016 among US diplomats stationed in Havana, Cuba, tend to involve bizarre episodes of sonic and sensory experiences that are often described as directional. Afflicted diplomats develop symptoms including headaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), nosebleeds, difficulty concentrating and recalling words, permanent hearing loss, and speech problems. Medical experts examining some of the cases have found evidence of “injury to widespread brain networks without an associated history of head trauma.” That is, sufferers appear to a have a concussion without a blow to the head.

Despite years of alarming reports and investigations into the cases, the cause of the incidents and who may be behind them remain a mystery—and cases continue to mount. News of the new task-force chief comes on the heels of a report from NBC News that the latest case count may be as high as 200. And though the incidents tend to be linked to Cuba—the condition is often referred to as “Havana Syndrome”—they have now been reported from every continent except Antarctica.

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#cia, #concussions, #cuba, #espionage, #havana-syndrome, #health-attacks, #microwaves, #russia, #science, #traumatic-brain-injury

N.F.L. to Drop Race-Based Measures in Concussion Settlement

Black players’ dementia claims were being measured differently from white players’. The change could prompt a reassessment of hundreds of previously denied cases.

#black-people, #concussions, #davenport-najeh-1979, #dementia, #discrimination, #national-football-league, #seeger-christopher

Olympic Bobsledder Who Killed Himself Likely Had C.T.E.

Pavle Jovanovic, who represented the United States at the 2006 Olympics, is believed to be the first athlete in a sliding sport to be found with a disease caused by repeated brain traumas.

#bobsledding, #boston-university, #brain, #chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy, #concussions, #holcomb-steven, #jovanovic-pavle, #mckee-ann, #new-jersey, #wood-adam-1981-2013

Black N.F.L. Players Want New Advocate in Concussion Settlement

Players said the lawyer for the N.F.L. retiree class knew that race-based criteria were used to deny Black players’ dementia claims. A review of eight such rejections seems to support their argument.

#black-people, #concussions, #davenport-najeh-1979, #dementia, #discrimination, #football, #henry-kevin-1968, #legal-profession, #national-football-league, #race-and-ethnicity, #seeger-christopher, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #tests-medical

NFL’s Concussion Settlement Will Look at Racial Bias in Payouts

Mediation in the case could force a reopening of hundreds of denied dementia claims from Black players if race-based evaluation benchmarks are thrown out.

#alzheimers-disease, #black-people, #brody-anita-b, #concussions, #davenport-najeh-1979, #discrimination, #henry-kevin-1968, #national-football-league, #race-and-ethnicity, #suits-and-litigation-civil

Football Practices Pose More Concussion Risk Than Games, Study Suggests

The report will fuel the longstanding debate about safety in college football, but changes do not appear to be imminent.

#concussions, #emmert-mark, #football-college, #jama-neurology-journal, #national-collegiate-athletic-assn, #research, #sports-injuries

When Two Stars Being Removed From N.F.L. Playoff Games Counts as Progress

Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes did not return to games over the weekend after concussions, which at least pleased critics who have long accused the league of turning a blind eye to brain injuries.

#concussions, #football, #jackson-lamar-1997, #mahomes-patrick-1995, #national-football-league, #sports-injuries

Soccer Will Run Trials of Concussion Substitutes

The move follows growing concern about the long-term effects of head injuries and the often-rushed treatment players receive.

#concussions, #international-federation-of-association-football-fifa, #international-football-assn-board-ifab, #soccer, #sports-injuries

She Seemed Destined for Olympic Glory. Brain Injuries Ended That.

Ellie Furneaux looked like she was going to become Britain’s next star in the sledding sport skeleton. But a series of concussions took a heavy toll.

#athletics-and-sports, #brain, #concussions, #head-body-part, #migraine-headaches, #olympic-games-2018, #skeleton-sport, #sleds, #sports-injuries

Paul Hornung, Midcentury Football’s ‘Golden Boy,’ Is Dead at 84

His dazzling play at Notre Dame, a Hall of Fame Career with the Green Bay Packers, matinee-idol looks and a playboy image made him a national celebrity in the ’50s and ’60s.

#concussions, #deaths-obituaries, #football, #football-college, #green-bay-packers, #heisman-trophy, #helmets, #hornung-paul, #national-football-league, #pro-football-hall-of-fame, #riddell, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #university-of-notre-dame

This Sledding Team Trained Hard for Gold in 2010. Some Members Regret It.

In skeleton, the headfirst Olympic sledding sport, the opportunity for unlimited training on the track can be a huge advantage. But Canadian Olympians who had such access believe it was bad for their brains.

#alberta-canada, #concussions, #hollingsworth-mellisa, #mental-health-and-disorders, #olympic-games-2010, #royal-canadian-mounted-police, #skeleton-sport, #traumatic-brain-injury, #uhlaender-katie, #whistler-british-columbia

Sledding Athletes Are Taking Their Lives. Did Brain-Rattling Rides and High-Speed Crashes Damage Their Brains?

Not long ago, Pavle Jovanovic was among the world’s top bobsledders. In retirement, he battled mental illness and substance abuse. Were brain injuries the cause of his demise and that of others in his sport?

#bobsledding, #calgary-alberta, #concussions, #depression-mental, #holcomb-steven, #jovanovic-pavle, #luge-racing, #skeleton-sport, #sports-injuries, #suicides-and-suicide-attempts, #toms-river-nj, #united-states-bobsled-and-skeleton-federation

The Quiet Brain of the Athlete

The brains of fit, young athletes dial down extraneous noise and attend to important sounds better than those of other young people.

#athletics-and-sports, #brain, #concussions, #ears-and-hearing, #running