Red Fisher has been covering Les Canadiens Hockey Club for a very long time. I was going through my archived drawings last week-end which were published in the Montreal Star before it went under a long time ago. The nostalgia washed over me looking at the crinkled, yellowing fragile newsprint- my drawings were themed on -The Nightmares of a Goalie. I was surprised to notice that Red Fisher’s column was just below the illustrations. But let me return to Red Fisher. He is the premier commentator for hockey in the english language in Montreal. His words ring with freshness yet they also convey the history of the world’s finest professional sports club, which is his beat.
To-day’s edition of the Montreal Gazette November 29, 2011, Red Fisher approves the suspension of Max Pacioretty for three games, quoting the headline, “Pacioretty’s hit merits punishment.” First off it is so surprising that Pacioretty would level a player with no regard for the impact against Kris Letang’s head. Pacioretty is the NHL poster boy for head hits since he had his neck broken by Boston’s Zedno Charra. Pacioretty made a miraculous and full recovery following his concussive injury. To run at any player’s head is inexcusable, plus Pacioretty, in Fisher’s words, “has nobody but himself to blame for his uncharacteristic decision to go for Letang’s head. The defenseman wasn’t looking for trouble. Neither was Pacioretty, but it sounded as if the Canadiens sniper knew a suspension was forthcoming when he told reporters after the game he felt badly about the hit, and ‘hoped it was within the rules.’ Another, and perhaps even more dangerous than Pacioretty’s reckless move, was the Penguins’ decision to allow Letang to return to the overtime.” Pacioretty does have a conscience however, ..’ he apologized to the player when Letang returned to the ice for the overtime.’
“By allowing Letang to return for the overtime, what the Penguins were telling us was the miniscule minutes an intermission lasts were enough to probe into a player’s brain and determine beyond question that no damage has been done.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Why after their experience with Crosby, would they even think of allowing Letang to return to the ice? What was the upside to it? Did they feel they truly needed him on the ice in overtime, or that without him they ran the risk of losing the game either in over time or during The Gimmick?” The Gimmick is Fisher’s slang for the shoot out.
“What I am really saying is that the organization’s decision was even more reckless than the Pacioretty hit…that somebody up there has a thought process badly twisted out of shape. ”
“What I’m saying is that Letang should not have been allowed to play until he underwent an examination in-depth and cleared by a specialist in head trauma.”
I completely agree with Red Fisher. It’s ironic that he uses the term in my estimation at the real science of the impact, which is, ‘twisted out of shape.’ My term for the soft science happening inside any concussion event is brain rotation.
Medical specialists do not know this yet. Penfield in an earlier, blog started to report about brain rotation back in 1930, but somehow his observations never took root. Mid point of my sabbatical I needed a reality check for my brain concussion ideas, so I made a presentation in the early fall to Dr. Jack Antel senior Neurologist from the Montreal Neurological Institute. I had a one on one for one hour but did not sway Dr Antel into any kind of offer of support. It was may fault not being able to explain myself about brain rotation with tensegrity shape sensing as the deep science. I had to stand back after that Antel interview for it clobbered my self esteem for a good while. Basically Dr Antel did me a huge favor- I wasn’t clear in my terms. But my confidence was shredded.
When I ran the brain hypothesis by Head of Neuorology at the University of Ottawa, Dr Antoine Hakim, an old colleague from our early Neuro days, I was very nervous with the Antel episode still fresh in my memory. But I did want to present to Dr Hakim a more clear and logical quest for resolving Penfield’s brain rotation observation. Thank God I did a better job with Dr Hakim telling me, “Mike everything you are telling me makes sense logically-go for it!”
So that is the dilemma with Letang- there is no diagnostic test that can be done in Fisher’s words, ‘miniscule minutes,’ toward revealing a brain concussion for a NHL player like Letang or anybody who has suffered a severe impact to their head.
Our cerebrovortex research goal is to develop a valid diagnostic test suitable to be performed without complicated medical devices in the locker room or in any room anywhere. I think I have figured out how to do it but first we have to establish bone changes associated with concussions with the help of Dr Andersen and Coach Clint Uttley’s Redmen football team.
We should have enough player pre season versus post concussion data by this time next year. Hopefully there will be no more Penguin’s mind-boggling release of Kris Letang back to play despite unobvious concussive symptoms, which do not have to reveal themselves immediately. We will have demonstrated the soft science of Penfield’s brain rotation during concussions to move on to our next objective, which is applying the hard science of understanding concussions using tensegrity shape sensing for a treatment option toward repairing traumatic brain injury.