Bruins

Bruins feel varying impacts of consussions

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Bruins feel varying impacts of consussions

Taylor Twellman, whose own career ended because of multiple concussions, says Marc Savard "could wake up tomorrow and feel 100 percent." And, in fact, the Bruins have a player on their roster -- Patrice Bergeron -- who has been able to get past concussion issues . . .

By MaryPaoletti
CSNNE.com

Cam Neely has two players on the roster who sit at opposite ends of the post-concussion spectrum: Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron.

Bergeron was thrown headfirst into the boards and suffered a Grade 3 concussion in October of 2007-08. He wasnt cleared for full participation until the following preseason. But after showing positive signs for improvement, he collided with a member of the Carolina Hurricanes on December 20, 2007.

Another concussion. There was no timetable for return.

MORE ON THIS STORY
THE PROBLEM: Isthere a concussion 'epidemic' in hockey? Notnecessarily
THE REACTION: Manyplayers choose not to worry about concussions
THE FACE OF THE PROBLEM:TaylorTwellman: One man's concussion story
Bergeron returned to play after little more than a month. His career since has been on an upswing.

How does a guy go from being physically unable to participate in hockey to leading the Bruins in points (20 goals, 29 assists through Feb. 24) in his third year back?

With time, with life, the brain will remodel itself, Harvard University athletic trainer Chad Krawiec states. Will it get to the point where you can play sports? Some people, no. But for living and functioning, your brain typically will. 100 of the time, no one can really say that. But for the majority of our athletes we deal with, as far as we know with the information we have now in 2011, the brain will react, recover, and get to a normal functioning level and be safe to play sports again.

Acknowledgment of symptoms, proper diagnosis, time to heal.

Its about the players themselves trying to be as honest as they can with the trainers, the doctors, Neely says. Its not like any other injury; the brain is a different animal. The players have to take the responsibility.

But the Bruins president a Hall of Fame NHLer understands that players want to play.

Athletes often draw their identities from their sport. Life beyond the game exists, but 10-15 years in the future may as well be 10-15,000; retirement is a reality to face only when theres nowhere else to look. Fear of disappointing coaches and teammates or losing their roster spots? The immediacy makes it real. Thats when the fear is worn like blinders.

Thats why the primary goal for an athlete after a concussion isnt always getting healthy; its getting back onto the ice.

A primary component of concussion recognition the identification of patient symptoms is in fact subjective, Krawiec admits.If the patient decides he does not want to report fully and honestly then he can, and we would have to go on that. Thats his own conscious risk hes taking, but he can obviously lie or just not report the severity.

The cognitive tests like the neuropsychological tests we administer are a little more difficult to cheat on. Some guys will intentionally do poorly on the healthy baseline test instituted in the NHL in 1997, thinking that when concussed a poor test will then look good sort of set the bar low to start. The problem is, even these mild concussive states place the brain in a susceptible position. The players may not think its a problem, but it can be dangerous.

Its difficult for spectators to understand why someone would knowingly put his brain in danger. For some athletes, surrendering to an invisible assailant, being patient as they watch their world pass by, is even harder.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Backes, on mend from bout with diverticulitis, may return Thursday

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Backes, on mend from bout with diverticulitis, may return Thursday

BRIGHTON -- While there will clearly need to be sign-offs from the medical staff, the Bruins aren’t ruling out a return from David Backes for Thursday night’s game vs. the Vancouver Canucks.

Both Backes and Patrice Bergeron returned to Bruins practice with the rest of their teammates on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, but it was only the 33-year-old Backes that practiced fully without any limitations.

“He skated a little while we were away and a full practice today, so we’ll consult with the medical staff going forward with his plan,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “Potentially he could be an option for Thursday, and I think that should sort itself out in the next couple of days. We’re no different than anybody else, right? We’d like to have our full complement, and some of the guys we’re missing are glue guys that could really add that element to some of the kinds of games that got away from us.”

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After the team practice, Backes said that he’s been skating for the last four days and that he’s lost about 10 pounds over the last couple of weeks while adjusting to the medication and dietary treatments for diverticulitis. It wasn’t a complete shock to Backes given some of his family medical history, but he wasn’t expecting anything like that to hit him in the prime of his professional athletic career at just 34 years old.

“I have a family history of it, but this is kind of unfortunate timing and unfortunate circumstances. Hopefully I take care of this, get it behind me and not have to ever think about it again,” said Backes. “The first couple of days it was tough to just stand up straight or do anything, and then you’re on a ‘no exercise’ regimen for six or seven days. So progress . . . certainly. A return . . . we’ll see. Long-term prognosis we’ll have to discuss with the really smart guys.

“You don’t have much appetite, to deal with pain you take a painkiller and then that slows down digestion and just makes it even worse. So you’re stuck there…and it really drains your energy. I was on a liquid diet there for a few days and lost about 10 pounds. I don’t suggest that as a crash diet for anybody.”

He’s come a long way from being stuck in a Mass General hospital bed during Bruins opening night against the Nashville Predators, and Backes is hoping he’ll be all the way back to playing sooner rather than later. The Bruins right winger skated in a third line spot with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller on Tuesday, and said he’s actually even consulted a bit with former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light, who battled his own stomach issues with Crohn’s Disease during his NFL career.

“I was like a kid in a candy store before practice. You have that carrot of Game 1 dangled in front of you and then taken away, and finally you’re back with the guys on the ice after they’ve been gone a week. Knowing what the results have been you want to interject a little energy out there while knowing that we’ve got 77 games left to establish ourselves, and find our game,” said Backes. “I felt good out there and it was nice to be back on the ice. I was smiling most of the day knowing that I’ll hopefully be playing some ice hockey in the future.

“We’re working to get that strength back and to return me to a productive member of this hockey team, which is going to be on the upswing here shortly. It’s not just due to me, but because guys are putting work in as a group. I’m trying to be as educated about it as I can, so I can be available as often as possible and as productive as possible when I am available.”

There are medical hurdles that need to be traversed by Backes before he can return, but once it becomes a matter of toughness and grit then he’ll be suiting up again for the Black and Gold, and that moment might be coming soon.

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'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

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'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

BRIGHTON, Mass – Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was acting a bit out of character after the Sunday night loss to the Vegas Golden Knights when he said he wouldn’t be commenting on team performance outside of his own goaltending. 

Clearly, it was a tense atmosphere in the Bruins dressing room following an extremely bad road performance and it would seem very likely there’s probably been some friction in the past between Rask and positional players over his postgame candor.

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That was the backdrop for Rask keeping it laconic, and saying on Sunday night: “I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on. I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

It would seem that some fans and Bruins observers took that to mean Rask was pissed off at his Bruins teammates after a few breakdowns defensively, and a total non-performance at the offensive end of the ice.

Taking all that into account, Rask clarified his comments a bit after practice Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena and said it’s all about focusing on his own performance rather than taking issues with any of his teammates.

“You lose games and you’re not happy with your performance. Somebody just told me that I guess it got spun the wrong way that it was me mad at my teammates or something. That’s definitely not the case,” said Rask, whom at 1-3-0 with a 3.30 goals-against average and .880 save percentage this season, is clearly in need of some improvement as well.

“You lose games and you definitely hold yourself accountable and you want to talk about your performance and what you need to do to get better," Rask said. "So, that’s where I was coming from. I definitely wasn’t mad at our team. I was more mad at myself, so that’s that.

“You always try to give a fair assessment about the game, but I think the biggest thing that I need to worry about, and what everybody else needs to worry about, is how they get better themselves. You start from that, so that’s where I was coming from.”

The prospect of getting Patrice Bergeron and David Backes back healthy would go a long way toward improving the Bruins play on the ice and stabilizing things defensively for Rask and the rest of the Black and Gold. That’s really what’s needed at this point to improve a situation where the B’s are 23rd in the NHL, averaging 3.6 goals allowed per game, and real, rather than figurative, fingers might start getting pointed all around if it doesn’t start looking better in short order.