95 : Battling Post Concussion Syndrome w/ Former NFL Linebacker, Ka'Lial Glaud

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Ka'Lial Glaud is a former linebacker for the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys. Ka'Lial and I were at Rutgers together when I was serving the team as a student manager.  Since I spent most of my time with the running backs, I didn't have too much interaction with Ka'Lial while we were both in college. It is more likely than not that at some point I helped him put his shoulder pads on before a game.  I knew Ka'Lial had seen some success in the NFL, but I was clueless about his now two year long battle with post concussion syndrome (PCS) after a concussion he suffered while fighting for a roster spot on the Dallas Cowboys. Multiple former Rutgers Football co-workers sent me this Vice Sports article, which highlighted Ka'Lial's struggles.  Episode 95 starts off by Ka'Lial taking us through the foggy recollection of the concussion that ultimately led to his PCS. 

"The hardest thing is not having the opportunity to even try to play football."

Ka'Lial is forced to wear sunglasses due to his sensitivity to light.

Ka'Lial is forced to wear sunglasses due to his sensitivity to light.

“I feel like I can feel my brain”

Although uncertain about the exact hit that has caused Ka'Lial to suffer from symptoms like sensitivity to light, sensitivity to noise, nausea, headaches and a floating sensation in his brain, a Cowboys veteran could tell something wasn't right and had the medical staff take a look at him.  Being a fringe player constantly fighting for a roster spot, Ka'lial was understandably resistant to the Veteran's advice to seek medical attention.  Today, Ka'Lial is grateful for that Veteran because he can't even imagine how he would be feeling now if he continued to play.  This is the perfect example of #TeamUpSpeakUp in Episode 93.

Ka'Lial wearing #47 for the Cowboys

Ka'Lial wearing #47 for the Cowboys

Despite the debilitating symptoms Ka'Lial experiences on a daily basis, he has not lost hope and continues to have a positive attitude. He also has a relentless approach toward researching and seeking out alternative treatments in hopes of alleviating his symptoms.  Ka'Lial encourages all athletes going through similar struggles to never stop fighting, because people do get better and so will you.

"You never think it can ever get worse than what you are feeling."

Below are show notes on other topics discussed during our conversation:

  • What can make the game safer?
  • The implications of more guaranteed money for pros.
  • Discrepancy between how the stars and fringe guys are treated.
  • Symptom triggers. 
  • The importance of Ka'Lial's family in dealing with his symptoms.
  • Mental and emotional struggles of PCS.
    • Having to pretend like everything is okay.
  • Filling the void that your sport once held. 
  • Ka'Lial was only a couple players away from Eric LeGrand on the kick off that led to his paralysis.  He goes into how the injury affected him and his teammates.
  • Thoughts on his son playing football.
    • Wants to make sure its not who he is, its just what he does.
  • Observations on career longevity.
    • Focus on recovery.
  • The staple move of a linebacker is the Butt and Press.
    • We discuss techniques that make the game more dangerous than it needs to be.
Ka'Lial sacking Syracuse QB. Photo: Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America

Ka'Lial sacking Syracuse QB.

Photo: Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America

WHERE CAN YOU FOLLOW Ka'Lial?

INSTAGRAM | Twitter | Facebook

Download Episode 95 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud

JK...but seriously. Real football injury talk. Week 2

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After each week of NFL football games for the 2017-2018 season, the Heads 'N Tales podcast will be posting an episode dedicated to injuries and health & safety topics surrounding the NFL. Specifically we will talk about possible prevention strategies, the rulebook, equipment and other injury buzz around the league.  My co-host and strategist for these episodes will be one of my closest friends, Josh Boyd (hence the J in "JK"..I'm the K...).  Josh and I grew up playing baseball together. Josh was a division-1 center fielder for Monmouth University and experienced his fair share of injuries throughout his career.  Although Josh never played organized football, the dude flat-out knows the game of football and undoubtably knows more about the ins-and-outs of the sport better than I do from both a fan and x's & o's perspective.  Our intention for these episodes is to spark conversations around topics that are usually brushed under the rug or only minimally covered in the hopes of making football and all sports safer for the athletes who play them.  

You are currently looking at the show notes for Week 2!

Week 2 Major Injuries:

  • Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England, Groin
    • Will he ever be truly healthy again?
    • Can someone his size and position stay healthy at this point in his career?
  • Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina, Broken Foot, Non-Contact
  • Marshall Yanda, Guard, Baltimore, Broken Ankle, Rolled up on
  • Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay, Quad (Same Leg as Previous ACL)
  • Nolan Carroll, CB, Dallas, Concussion
    • Interesting because he went into concussion protocol for 1 hit earlier in the game, got cleared, and then came back only to take another hit which forced him out of the game.
    • Both hits were friendly fire.

YOU CAN'T Do THaT:

  • Ryan Shazier, LB Pittsburgh
    • Hit on sliding QB
  • Kenny Vaccaro, S, New Orleans
    • Hit on defenseless receiver
  • Good example of clean pass break up, Mike Mitchell, S , Pittsburgh

Play @ 2:14

Houston leading by example:

  • All three Texans tight ends were INACTIVE for Thursday night's game @ Cincinnati. 
    • CJ Fedorowicz was placed on IR (out at least 8 weeks)
      • ust be serious...
        • He suffered 1st diagnosed concussion of NFL Career last season in Week 14 & missed 1 game.
        • This preseason was diagnosed with a concussion that occurred outside of game action (very little details here) but was cleared from concussion protocol for Week 1 game.
        • Suffered another concussion in Week 1.

Oh Canada: 

  • CFL Eliminates all Padded Practices during the season.
    • Now Full Contact padded practices during preseason only.
    • Expanding season by 1 week without adding more games. 
    • 21 week regular season
    • 18 games/team
    • 3 byes/team
      • All adding up to more recovery time! 
    • NFL currently allows 14 padded, contact regular season practices

SHORTER COMMERCIALS?! BETTER FAN EXPERIENCE OR CONSPIRACY?

  • This year the NFL has being trying to have fewer, but longer commercial breaks this year and eliminating the commercial after extra points and again after kickoffs.
  • Networks like FOX are adding short 6-10 sec ads during quicks breaks in the action.
    • Great for the TV Viewer right?!
    • But is this a coverup to take to focus away from injuries? 
      • Keep an eye out while you watch the Week 3 games!
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Download  : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud

94 : Lessons Learned After 23 Surgeries w/ Rebecca Schumer Lee, DPT

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Rebecca Schumer Lee is a Sports Physical Therapist at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network and was a dual sport (soccer and softball) division-1 athlete at The George Washington University. Currently, Rebecca primarily works with athletes of all levels and patients with orthopedic injuries and/or post-surgical recovery at the US Lacrosse Headquarters in Sparks, Maryland.  Rebecca reached out to me after coming across our Instagram account. She was understandably intrigued by our podcast after having 23 surgeries of her own throughout her athletic career.  Rebecca believes her injury-proneness stemmed from the natural hyper-mobility in her joints. During our interview we learn about how although mobility and range of motion are important for both performance and in reducing the risk of injury, but joint stability is also important.  Additionally, Rebecca feels her competitive drive and not knowing when to stop was also a contributing factor of her high injury rate.  I can certainly relate to Rebecca on that one!  Rebecca wishes she knew more about the importance of active recovery during her athletic career, which is a topic she touches on more than one occasion throughout the episode. 

Sixteen of the 23 surgeries were on her left foot after suffering a Lisfranc injury on October 6th, 2004 during her Junior year soccer campaign at GW.  Rebecca remembers this day vividly and recalls her athletic trainer encouraging her to find a hobby, knowing her injury would required surgery. Easier said than done for such a competitive athlete who saw no life outside of sports. 

During our conversation she described her left foot as looking like a bag of screws (see picture below). I think that is a pretty accurate claim. Although she admits that it has taken time to come to grips with her various injuries and the resultant limitations those have placed on her active lifestyle, she has learned to make light of the situation (see below). 

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"Pain is your body's warning signal that something is not right"

With all these injuries, Rebecca talks about the struggle of having the injury prone tag.  She remembered having both a walking boot and an arm sling at one point while still in college.  Rebecca gives advice in this episode on how to use your injury to your advantage.  This isn't referring to the use of elevator services and getting sympathy from your friends, teachers and family.  There is a lot that can be learned from watching from the sideline.

Believe it or not, since high school Rebecca knew she wanted to be a physical therapist even before all the injuries. Below, she is pictured treating one of her patients with dry needling.

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As Rebecca states in her Instagram caption (above), there is not one tool that is going to solve everything.  During our conversation, I asked Rebecca about some things injured athletes and their families should look for when choosing a PT facility.  Not all PT practices are created equal.

What to look for in a PT facility:

  • What is the population?
    • Athletes or hip replacements?
  • Take a tour of the facility to see their space and equipment options
    • Rebecca's new favorite tool is the Owens Recovery Science blood flow restriction device featured in episode 84.  
    • The most commonly treated injury in Rebecca's practice are ACL injuries
  • Are you progressing?
  • Are your exercises always the same?
  • Are you always off on your own or working with an aide?
    • If any of those are true, you should look into finding a new facility.

Throughout the recoveries from all her surgeries, Rebecca has found peace in her thirst for knowledge.  Reading books and listening to podcast are two of her favorite hobbies outside of physically active activities.  Below are some of her favorites.  Personally, I am a huge fan of fifth one on the list, The School of Greatness, by Lewis Howes.

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Some other topics covered throughout the interview are listed below:

  • Fostering an environment of healing in a PT practice
  • Tips for transitioning to a life after sports or back to sports
  • The pillars of health Rebecca lives by in her day-to-day life
  • The demands of playing two division-1 sports
  • Sports specilization

WHERE CAN FIND OUT MORE ABOUT Medstar Sports Medicine?

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | Youtube

WHERE CAN YOU FOLLOW Rebecca?

INSTAGRAM 

Download Episode 94 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud