Football Player's Concussion, Response May Help Awareness

Anyone watching the Florida State football game last Saturday night probably cringed when receiver Kenny Shaw hit the ground after getting caught between two defenders. An expert says the player’s concussion was obvious, and perhaps the response to it can help raise awareness of concussions and brain injuries.

The scientist, an assistant professor of anatomy and neurobiology, says he could spot immediate signs of a concussion. For one thing, Shaw, who is from Orlando, displayed the classic “fencing response.”

That means that as he fell backwards, his arms extended forward for several seconds. According to, the expert says that is a common, involuntary response that often accompanies a concussion.

He says the fencing response can be important, because it can be a sign to those keeping an eye on athletes. For instance, if a boy at a Little League game falls and exhibits the fencing response, onlookers may know he needs medical attention. Otherwise, people don’t necessarily know they’ve suffered a concussion until much later.

It’s still not known why symptoms seem more severe in certain individuals, or why the effects of a concussion can linger for some, but not others. Recent research has indicated that the effects of a concussion can be longer-term than researchers once thought.

The assistant professor notes that the fencing response was present in two-thirds of subjects he studied. The same was true of animals. It can be an important tool in diagnosing and treating those who have suffered concussions, and he hopes more people will take note of it.

If you have been a victim of a brain injury and need an experienced lawyer, contact Oldham & Smith Attorneys at Law.

Source:, “Scientist hopes Shaw’s injury will raise concussion awareness,” Ira Schoffel, Sept. 21, 2011


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