Jeff Seidel: Lions, Jahvid Best still hopeful for return from concussion
November 28, 2012
Jahvid Best is doing brain workouts.
It's like he is back in school, trying to strengthen his memory, trying to stimulate his brain, so that he can get back on the football field for the Lions.
"I'm feeling good," Best said Tuesday night, after receiving the Ed Block Courage Award at the 19th annual Detroit Lions Courage House Dinner at Ford Field. "They tell me I can't play this season, but they didn't shut the door. For me, as a person, I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy. If you don't shut the door, there is still a way. I'm still working. I'm still doing everything I can."
Best hasn't played football in more than a year.
But he wants to play again, and the Lions' medical staff is hopeful that he will. Someday. Maybe next year.
"We are very hopeful," said Dean Kleinschmidt, the Lions' coordinator of athletic training. "We just don't know if it is going to happen."
He didn't say probably. Didn't say likely.
It is a tenuous, uncertain place.
And that gets back to his brain and those brain workouts.
"It's like going to school," Best said.
Doctors call it cognitive therapy.
The concussion is no longer the problem.
Best is working to treat postconcussive symptoms, which are different from the immediate danger of a concussion.
Postconcussive symptoms are varied. They can range from memory loss to balance problems to mood issues.
"Yes, I would say the concussion is healed," Kleinschmidt said, "but he has residual" issues."
So this young running back keeps working out.
Working on his brain.
"He is working on skills to improve his memory," Kleinschmidt said, "and to make sure the good life goes on, to be able to fully function."
And there's the rub.
Everybody wants him to get back on the field.
But the first concern is his long-term health.'Valor beyond definition'
Best has suffered three major concussions that have been reported in the media. One ended his college career at Cal -- and yes, you can argue that the Lions shouldn't have gambled on him, shouldn't have traded up to take him in the first round, but let's table that discussion for another day.
He also suffered a concussion while playing for the Lions in a 2011 exhibition game against the Cleveland Browns.
And his last concussion was on Oct. 16, 2011, in the second half of a game against San Francisco 49ers.
He hasn't played since.
"We have had him crisscross the country, seeing one medical expert on head injury after another," Kleinschmidt said.
Best has had numerous MRI scans and exhaustive neurological tests. He has faced doubt and confusion and the agony of not being on the field.
Through it all, he never complained; he never questioned; he never got angry, according to Kleinschmidt.
"He has demonstrated courage, valor beyond definition," Kleinschmidt said.
Kleinschmidt has worked with injured athletes for 39 years, and he has never seen one quite like Best.
"I have never admired, respected, or just flat-out was rooting an injured player, like I have for this young man," Kleinschmidt said.
Best thought he was going to make it back this season. He underwent a battery of tests Oct. 8 but wasn't cleared to play. Earlier this month, the Lions placed Best on the reserve physically-unable-to-perform list.
And his season was done.Can't predict the future
Imagine being told you can't go to work.
And there is no promise that you will ever return to work again. And there is no set guideline on when you might return.
That's what Best has faced.
"He's fighting an invisible opponent in a lot of ways," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "You can't always rehab and you can't do anything other than try to be patient and try to be positive."
What is his future? Lions president Tom Lewand doesn't know.
"We will see what the future holds," Lewand said. "We can't predict where that is."
Best is in a precarious, unique situation. He is recovering from an injury, going through rehabilitation, as the medical science on concussions is advancing at the same time.
"He has had to adapt and evolve as the science has adapted and evolved," Lewand said.
Now, here comes the crazy part.
Best says he feels fine. "It's one of those things where, you don't really feel it," he said.
And that makes this injury unlike any other.
"If it was an ankle, it would be sore and you would know if you could go or not," Best said. "With a concussion, it's kind of up in the air. You feel fine but what the doctors say is not. So it's kind of up in the air. Especially this year with how sensitive the subject is right now. They just want to make sure all is OK. We are just taking the safest approach to it. But they haven't shut the door."
So he will keep doing those brain workouts.
Ever hopeful. Ever positive.
Hoping to walk through that door.
But uncertain whether he will ever get the chance.Contact Jeff Seidel: 313-223-4558 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff.
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A recap of Jahvid Best’’s concussion history:
Nov. 7, 2009: Concussion at Cal that ended his season. Knocked unconscious from a hard fall on his head against Oregon State.
Aug. 19, 2011: Concussion in exhibition win vs. Browns. Took a hard hit after catching a swing pass on first snap. Carried the ball the next two plays before leaving for good after losing a fumble.
Oct. 16, 2011: Second concussion of season in loss to 49ers. Left in the fourth quarter. He never played again in 2011; placed on injured reserve Nov. 25.
Nov. 2, 2012: The Lions announced that Best will remain on the reserve physically-unable-to-perform list and miss the entire season.http://www.freep.com/article/20121128/C ... it%20Lions