Boy, what a hit—he rang my bell!

S. Terry Canale, MD

Back when there were no helmets, later when there were helmets but no facemasks or mouth guards, and even today when helmets contain extra padding or “bladders,” concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries were and still are common.

Not long ago, trainers, coaches, and even team physicians would chuckle when a player staggered to the sideline after a vicious hit. “Boy, he just got his bell rung!” they might say. Then they’d ask if he knew what day it was. If he didn’t, they’d ask what game he’s playing and how many fingers he could see. When he got it right, he could go back in. If they remembered, they’d check to see if both pupils contract.

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