Blowing the Whistle on Concussions; Building the Elite Athlete; Scientific American Presents; by Polly Shulman; 8 Page(s)
Immediately after being elbowed in the jaw by Boston Bruin Hal Gill during a March 4 hockey game, Eric Lindros's world went yellow. The star center of the Philadelphia Flyers fell to the ice. He was helped into the locker room by the team's trainer, then vomited. He complained of a bad headache and strangely colored vision. Team doctors gave him heat packs and ibuprofen and then put him back in the lineup for another four games. "I wanted to keep playing," despite the telltale signs of a concussion, Lindros told reporters. "That's the mentality of a player-¿Everything's going to be fine, it's going to go away,' and you just keep on playing." He added, "I knew that things were not good, and I tried to convey that through my symptoms. But I was not going to pull myself out of the game. I wanted the team to pull me out. I was hoping as the week went on that they would do that."
It was nine days before team doctors sent Lindros to a headache specialist, who referred him to James P. Kelly, an expert in sports-related concussions who is based at Northwestern University Medical School. Kelly diagnosed Lindros with a moderate concussion. Playing in subsequent games would put the athlete at serious risk: a second concussive hit sustained before the first one had healed could cause permanent brain damage or even death.