02 November 2012

Tigers' Pitcher Doug Fister Appears to Avoid Concussion

story first appeared in Detroit Free Press

The line drive Tigers pitcher Doug Fister took to the head in Thursday’s World Series game certainly looked painful. But how badly was he injured?

Dr. Daniel B. Michael, a neurosurgeon and Chief of Neurotrauma at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak said a hit like that would obviously be painful.

Both Michael and Dr. Sadiq Haque, a sports medicine specialist at the Detroit Medical Center, watched the game on TV Thursday night. They said it didn’t appear that Fister suffered a concussion.

Michael said it it was good to see the ball hit him at a glancing blow, and the energy with which it went from his skull was a good sign, because that energy wasn't imparted to Fister's head.

Tigers Manager Jim Leyland, a pitching coach and a trainer immediately went to check on Fister. Michael noted that Fister was asked various questions, including where he was and which inning the game was in. Short term memory problems are among the symptoms of a concussion, an injury to the brain that results in a transient deficit in function.

Fister was able to answer the questions correctly. He went back in the game.

Dr. Sadiq Haque said the impact looked serious, but the trainer would have done the appropriate evaluations to make sure it wasn't a concussion and that Fister could safely return to play.

Michael said if Fister has any memory problems, headaches or other concerning symptoms Friday, he should get checked out again, because sometimes in a moment like that the adrenaline will compensate for a mild concussion. If Doug demonstrated symptoms of a concussion within a few days of the game, he should be taken out of harm's way and watched closely. According to Michael, a head injury can be lethal even within a week or two.

Michael said he is in favor of having additional protective headgear for pitchers. He said even more protection built into the pitcher's cap could help prevent a serious head injury.

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