Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sports Injury - Concussion

My daughter is playing softball this season.   As I turned the corner to arrive at the field, I saw my daughter walking with a coach.  She was holding an instant ice pack on her throat.  They saw me and walked over to the car.   The coach explained that a softball bounced off her glove and into her neck.   My daughter told me her neck hurt, it was hard to swallow and difficult to talk.  The impact of the softball made it difficult for her to breath for 30 seconds.

We packed up her gear and drove away.  Instead of heading home, I drove in the direction of her doctor's office.  I called the doctor and a nurse answered.  She told us to come to the office right away.  The doctor checked her neck and throat.  Her neck did not appear swollen.  My daughter complained of a headache.  The doctor tested her neurological symptoms and determined she had a concussion.  Her head aches, eyes hurt and noise/light sensitivity. The doctor made arrangements for an X-ray of her vertebrae at the hospital as a precaution. 

I sat in the office trying to stay calm.  I was doing fine until I heard about the X-ray for possible fractures to the spine.  The doctor handed me the referral and we were on our way to the hospital.  Two hours later, we left the hospital knowing the X-ray was negative for fractures.  My daughter has a follow-up appointment this week.  She is restricted from physical activity (sports and gym) until cleared by the doctor.

During the exam, the doctor discussed children athletes and injuries.  His first question before he examined my daughter..."Did you continue playing after the injury?".    The doctor explained that he sees many patients with sports injurys.  The kids get hit and keep playing despite a headache or other symptoms.  The kids who keep playing have a longer recovery time from a concussion than those who stop playing.

From the Mayo Clinic:

No one should return to play or vigorous activity while signs or symptoms of a concussion are present. Experts recommend that an athlete with a suspected concussion not return to play until he or she has been medically evaluated. Experts also recommend that child and adolescent athletes with a concussion not return to play on the same day as the injury.

Monday, August 29, 2011

10 Things I Learned from a Day Without Electricity

Hurricane Irene spent some time in Pennsylvania this past weekend.   We are 60 miles West of Philadelphia and the estimated rainfall was 3 inches.  We lost power on Sunday at 2:00 am until 7:00 pm.  The power returned as I was loading coolers full of food to transport to my parents freezer 20 miles away.

10 Things I Learned from a Day Without Electricity

1.  It takes 2 gallons of water to flush a toilet. 
2.  Even though I knew the electricity was off...I kept automatically trying to turn lights and faucets on.
3.  The first floor of the house is much darker than the second floor.
4.  It is important to have a land line phone in addition to portable phones.
5.  I missed the instant access to news and information from the TV and Internet.
6.  However, I got a lot of work done around the house without the distraction of the TV and Internet.
7.  I need to purchase a battery operated radio.
8.  Peanut Butter sandwiches are yummy.
9.  Kids can occupy themselves for several hours without being "plugged in".  My daughter worked on a few crafts, completed her summer reading project and math worksheets.
10. It is easy to take things for granted.  I am very thankful the electricity is back on!

Sending well wishes to all those who were in Hurricane Irene's path...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Do You Advertise?

On my way to work this morning, I was sitting in traffic at a congested intersection. If you are familiar with the road conditions in PA, you know sitting in traffic at a construction zone is a daily occurrence. A common joke among long distance truck drivers…There are two seasons in Pennsylvania….Winter and Construction.

I glanced at the license plate of the car in front of me. The first three digits were the abbreviation of a martial arts organization. The remaining digits were 7DAN. I understood the meaning of the vanity plate but am fairly certain people unfamiliar with karate/martial arts would not extract the message.

Before anyone gets angry, let me stop right here. I am not opposed to the license plate. People can have whatever license plate they want. However, the license plate got me thinking about my own circumstances. I wondered if I advertise that I am a karate practitioner.

If I answer honestly, my answer has to be “Yes”. My karate training is personal but I also have a responsibility to the dojo.

I have more karate t-shirts than I can count acquired over the years at seminars and tournaments. I can think of at least one jacket and several gear bags. I have t-shirts advertising our dojo, business cards and a karate blog.

I don’t often wear karate t-shirts unless I am attending a karate event. I remember going to Hershey Park with Tom several years ago. He was wearing a dojo t-shirt. A young man, who was working at the park, stopped Tom and asked him if he took karate lessons. As soon as Tom told the man he owned the school, the conversation ended and the worker went on his way. It was an odd exchange and I always wondered why the man asked the question. At the time, it felt like the worker was looking to cause trouble.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Interesting Article on Sports and Aggression

Interesting article from Science Daily:  "Leaving Anger on the Field: Statistics Show That Sports Help Ease Aggression in Boys"

A prescription for a healthier body and mind

"We set out to determine whether sports training would have a positive impact on these children by lowering aggression, and how this result can be achieved," explains Shahar. It would be more effective than verbal therapy, she says, because while verbal therapy encourages children to control their behavior, research indicates that it does not reduce negative emotions. The introduction of sport, however, is able to reduce aggressive behavior as a result of quelling negative emotions.

In 25 schools across Israel, Shahar and her fellow researchers analyzed a 24-week-long after-school program based on sports. Half the participants comprised a control group who did not receive sports instruction, and the other half were systematically introduced to a variety of sports for five hours a week. Three times a week, students ranging from grades 3-6 played group sports such as basketball or soccer. Twice a week, they participated in martial arts, including judo and karate.

After 24 weeks of programming, Shahar compared questionnaires and evaluations executed at the beginning of the program with the same tests administered at the end. Her results demonstrated an improvement in traits relating to participants' self-control, such as self-observation, problem-solving skills, and delayed gratification -- which ultimately led to a decrease in the incidence of aggression. Only those children who exhibited higher levels of self-control also demonstrated the decline in aggression.

Boys benefit most

Girls had a much weaker response to sports programming than their male classmates, Shahar's research showed. Statistically, there was little change in the female population. Shahar reasons that girls do not often suffer from the same aggression problems as boys, and are less likely to exhibit a passion for sport.

American Friends of Tel Aviv University (2011, July 7). Leaving anger on the field: Statistics show that sports help ease aggression in boys. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 17, 2011, from­ /releases/2011/07/110706195908.htm

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Discussion: Attack Scenarios

The following post describes a practice session/discussion on attack scenarios in our dojo.

Last night the dojo black belts had a discussion on attacks.  Prior to class, each participant was to research possible street attack scenarios.  The scenarios were from personal experience/concerns, newspaper articles, books, Internet searches and YouTube videos.  Each person added a few items to the list for discussion.

1.  Grab belt from behind in a workplace environment. 
2.  Grab neck with one hand.
3.  Grab from behind in bear hug.  Arms are pinned.
4.  Blocking a door or entrance.  (work cubicle, elevator, etc.)
5.  Being followed.
6.  Attacker charges and attacks with strikes.
7.  Push...Push...Push.
8.  Attack while at urinal or in bathroom stall.
9.  Neck attack...hand hooking around back of neck.
10. Side by side contact when trying to leave an area.
11. Attacker throwing object to distract while charging.
12. Attacked when exiting or entering cars or homes.
13. Being jumped on while asleep.
14. Rear choke.

This list represents the items discussed in a dojo session.  It is not a comprehensive list nor did we include weapons in this session.  The group discussed each scenario and practiced defending against the attack.  We only made it part way through our list and will have to revisit the session.

Personal Observations:
1.  Often we practice linear attacks/grabs in the dojo.  We need more practice in circular conflicts.
2.  Blocked Entrance.  I found this difficult.  One participant described an actual situation which happened at work.  A man stood at the cubicle entrance and would not let the person through the door. 
3.  Following.  I had an immediate reaction when someone was following me. 
4.  Attacks not likely to be "karate" attacks. (technically correct punches with chambered fists)
5.  We have more work to do.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sandwich Night

Sandwich Night is our dojo name for karate training and dinner.  We try to have a Sandwich Night once a month.  It started with a teenage black belt's band fundraiser.  He asked the group if we wanted to buy a hoagie to support the high school band. Everyone bought a sandwich. The sandwich delivery coincided with our black belt class. 

Sandwich Night was born.  We use this time to explore topics of interest.  The sessions vary from kata/bunkai, knife throwing, improvised weapons, book reviews and video reviews.  Tonight, we will be discussing attacks.  The session was prompted by Journeyman's post Mind the Gap - Part III - Learn to Attack.

He suggests the following:

It's important to research realistic attacks.  The internet can be a good source of information, just try to make sure that information you get are from a reputable sources.  Read the news.  Consider seeking out people who are exposed to real violence, most likely through profession, who offer seminars or courses on personal protection.  Basically, find out what you actually might face, and practice responding, or defending, from that.

Should be a good night of training...
...and dinner.  :)

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