Chris Pronger's 'Concussion Symptoms'
Yesterday, Chris Pronger was announced to be out for an indefinite amount of time with ‘concussion symptoms.’
This follows the heels of a time when he was out with a ‘virus’ that became a knee injury that required surgery.
While it may seem fishy to some, it actually isn’t. In fact, this progression of symptoms makes perfect sense given the events of the last couple of seasons with Pronger’s health.
By putting together a mini-timeline from the Stanley Cup run in 2010 to the present, it becomes possible to make sense of what is happening to the Flyers Captain.
June 2010: After the Flyers loss in the Cup Finals to Chicago, Pronger has knee surgery and misses the first two games of the 2010-11 season.
December 2010: Pronger breaks a foot after blocking a shot, he misses a month.
March 2011: Pronger breaks a wrist, maybe re-breaks it, misses the end of the regular season and only plays a few playoff games as the Flyers bow out in the second round.
November 2011: Pronger takes a stick to his right eye on the follow-through from a Mikhail Grabovski shot during a game against Toronto.
The last incident is probably the most important one. The stick to the eye could very well be the whole cause of his current non-knee related problems.
To show this, first the knee problems will be explained, then the concussion symptoms.
Chris Pronger is now 37 years old, and like many 37-year old athletes, he is beginning to show his age. Because of that, it’s not surprising that his knees are giving him trouble.
Pronger is also a big man, standing at 6'6" and weighing 220 pounds; he’s a physically imposing player.
However, there are consequences to being that large for athletes.
While Pronger may throw his body around to inflict punishment on his opponents, his knees take a lot of punishment moving the rest of his body around. It should come as no surprise that things would begin to go awry for them.
On top of that, the broken foot would change how Pronger skates in that the foot would alter the balance of weight on his legs. This shift in balance would lead to strains on different muscles in his legs which would put pressure on different parts of his knees causing the current problem. It is not a far jump in logic to assume all these problems are related.
Now the virus, which actually now seems to be a concussion. In all probability, this is connected to the stick that caught Pronger’s eye last month against the Maple Leafs.
Viruses, eye injuries, and concussions actually share a few common symptoms. All three could result in weakness, fatigue, headaches and nausea. The Flyers medical staff that treated Pronger’s eye injury most likely screened him for a concussion, but probably saw test results that indicated eye damage was the cause of his symptoms.
Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren described the symptoms Pronger had to the media.
"I think over the last few days, he's had some difficulties," Holmgren told reporters. "Fairly persistent headache, just a sluggish feeling.".
These symptoms, while being symptoms of a concussion, are also symptoms of an eye injury.
Anyone who wears glasses or contacts will probably easily understand the explanation without a detailed lesson in ophthalmological and neurological anatomy. The pupil of the eye regulates the flow of light into the lens of the eye so the rods and cones can be stimulated into transmitting a signal through the optic nerve to the brain to be translated into an image that is seen.
If you are someone who wears glasses, imagine being forced off them for a long amount of time while needing to read something at a distance and having to strain. For anyone else, imagine the feeling you get while your eyes have to adjust from a dark room to a brightly lit environment. Healthy eyes can make the transition fairly easily, an injured one cannot.
When an eye injury like the one Pronger suffered against Toronto occurs, the flow of light into the eye is no longer properly regulated. This improper regulation of light can cause headaches and, in turn, the sluggish feeling.
The inability to focus on an object because of concussion or eye damage can cause the dizziness and nausea. Those symptoms could have easily been diagnosed as a virus, especially if others in the locker room had the flu.
There’s also a chance Pronger legitimately caught a cold or virus on top of all these symptoms, as all three explanations, eye-injury, virus, and concussion, share symptoms.
It is a logical assumption that Pronger passed all cognitive tests for a concussion, and due to the damage to the eye, the fMRI test was probably inconclusive since the stick damage to his eye/face would have clouded any obvious brain trauma for a concussion test.
On top of that, sometimes concussion symptoms can take days or weeks to build to an intolerable level. It is possible that these headaches have plagued Pronger since the incident. It would fit, given the timeline of events.
With that, the Flyers have done the right thing by shutting Pronger down for the short term and sending him to see concussion specialists. When looking at the damage done to Marc Savard and Ian Laperriere as a result of returning too early from concussions, this course of action makes the most sense.
Especially since Pronger’s contract is a 35+ contract until 2017, which means, under the current NHL CBA, the Flyers are on the hook for his salary regardless of whether or not Pronger is actually playing hockey or not.