Brian Scalabrine, Of All People, Also Risked His Long-Term Health By Rushing Back From A Concussion

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We talk a lot about football players risking their long-term health and well-being by rushing back on to the field after sustaining horrible injuries, and in particular, risking their mental acuity and balance by forgoing concussion recovery procedures. The same holds true for hockey, where Sidney Crosby's concussion issues sidelined the NHL's most marketable star for the bulk of two seasons. But, as Brian Scalabrine wil tell you, you need not play a full-contact sport nor be a star to feel the effects of a hurried return from a brain injury. He talked to TrueHoop about suffering three concussions in one month, and his subsequent experience in the Celtics' 2009 playoff series against the Bulls:

The story is I got hit in the head and more than likely I would have sat out the entire year ... except that [Kevin] Garnett was out with the little knee thing he had, then Leon Powe tears his ACL.

So we're sitting there playing Chicago in the first round and at that point I go back to "I don't care if I'm 70 percent, I don't care if I'm 50 percent, I have an opportunity right now to play in the playoffs."

The only two bigs we had were [Kendrick] Perkins and Big Baby [Glen Davis]. I was the third rotational big man, and I got a chance to play a ton of minutes in the playoffs. So I said, Hey, the long-term repercussions of this, I'll deal with later. I'm going to push through and play.

Scalabrine returned to the Celtics for Game 3 of their first-round series against the Chicago Bulls wearing an oversized headband designed to provide his head with extra padding.

The symptoms were this: I couldn't sleep longer than three-and-a-half hours. So every three-and-a-half hours, I would wake up for two hours, then try to go back to sleep for three hours, then I'd wake up again.

Another symptom was that I couldn't handle light, at all, so I'd wear dark, dark sunglasses all the time. And every time I tried to exercise, I would get really light-headed. So for me to be cleared, I had to be cool on all three.

Well, I just lied.

Scalabrine notes that he took a lot of heat for how he played during that series, despite not having run—literally—in the two months prior to seeing action against the Bulls.


This past week, Drew pointed out that retired athletes consistently say they would do it all over, crippling injuries notwithstanding. Scalabrine says the same thing, and that he took the opportunity to learn "a ton about brain health," though he also feels "woozy" if he forgets to take his Omega-3 pills. Obviously, it's not just fully-padded and helmeted warriors that end up playing through scary concussion symptoms—sometimes it's pasty bench-warming NBA players with sarcastic nicknames. TrueHoop is doing a series on player health that you can find here.