Brain Injury in Black Male Athletes

Posts Tagged racial bias

When the Game Overtakes Your Life

The Game is Life is a phrase often used to describe the bond between men and sports it illustrates in the all-encompassing idea that sports are your life. Sports have been given to Black children and adolescent as an avenue for success for decades with not all opportunities resulting in fame or financial gain. Many are led down a path of low security and even traumatic injury to their body and most specifically their brain.

Concussions are one brain injury that is very common in contact sports. The CDC estimates that 10% of athletes will face a concussion in a sports season. Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries that can cause long-term and permanent damage to someone’s neurological ways of thinking over time. Memory is one symptom of MTBI, and other symptoms such as anger and sensitivity to light can also happen.

Black men make up a large number of our NBA and NFL teams but often go missed or undiagnosed when faced with athletic injuries. Studies have shown that there is a higher percentage of White men diagnosed with concussions than compared to Black men. Black patients also do not have the same private insurance as White patients and quality care can be impacted. At both the professional and recreational level there is a lack of believing the pain Black men are facing and clear racial differences in both diagnosis and treatment.

Black men are very much exploited with sports at all levels from professional, collegiate, to recreational and this also leads to poor health. In the National Football League, Black men made up 70 percent of the players in 2018, while White men were 70 percent of the coaches and about 100 percent of top executive positions.

The individuals holding these positions of power will often push athletes past the pain and sometimes intervene themselves when it comes to accessing medical treatment. Creating a world where the sport is the only thing that is being focused on does not help these athletes to find love and enjoyment in other places. So when injuries happen they oftentimes put a mental strain on which can create behaviors that are overly aggressive and even abusive.

Brain injuries are preventable in sports it just comes to placing the wellbeing of the athlete above the love of profit. It also takes giving Black men with the space to feel pain and seek medical treatment for their injuries and get a clear diagnosis. Below is a list of ways to lessen the occurrence of brain damage while playing sports:

Ways to Stop Brain Damage:

  • Practice sportsmanlike conduct and avoid purposefully hitting someone in the head.
  • Wear helmets, mouthguards, and all other gear required for sport.
  • Almost half of concussions in high school football happen during running plays.
    • Marar M, McIlvain N, Fields S, Comstock RD. Epidemiology of Concussions Among United States High School Athletes in 20 Sports. Amer J Sports Med, April 2012, 40(4):747-755.  
  • Proper eating and sleeping.
  • Stop playing sports until fully recovered 
  • Limiting full contact practices.
  • Getting tested by YOUR primary care physician not always the one provided. Search the HUED directory now to find a providor that works for you.

Being constantly pushed to entertain and find fame takes so much out of an individual both physically and mentally. Continuing to put your own health first will allow for the quality of life you are use to as an individual.

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Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Doulas and The Remembering with Tanzye Hill

We had the opportunity to speak with Doula and the Founder of Birth Manifesta, LLC, Tanzye Hill, who is a mentoring Doula and holistic educator. Tanzye provided insight into why we need Doulas and the need for advocacy during their pregnancy and shared a piece of her journey into becoming a Doula.

What was your inspiration to become a Doula, and what was the need you wanted to fill?

My sister’s birth seven years ago was pivotal in deciding I wanted to be a Doula.

My mother birthed four children; she had unmedicated births, midwives, and breastfed. So my understanding of birth and motherhood was not restricted and not with many interventions, but more of a natural process of life. There was just this very sacredness of seeing it take place; I remember eating breakfast and watching my little brother being born.

Seeing the journey of my younger sister and the experience with the birth of her first child, my niece was not like I had seen at home. It was the first time I became aware of what a doula was and believed it to be part of the experience, so during her birth; I had an awareness that something was missing. Something wasn’t happening to make the experience what I had envisioned birth to be.

So the day came when I got the call, and I had prepared my boss that when the call came, I was going. I remember her privacy sheet was pulled a little, and the nurses were in the restroom with her. I got there, and I stepped in; I said, how are you? She was having contractions however, she’s stated she felt she was just losing so much fluid.

I said, “Well, did your water break?”

Her response was, “No, I don’t think so.”

So I looked at the nurse and asked, “Did her water break?”

The nurse responds, “Well, the doctor ordered to break her water.”

So she broke her water but didn’t tell her, and my sister wanted things to happen on their own, so she was very disappointed. As she progressed along, I started to advocate for my sister; it became very apparent that the nurses, at one point, didn’t even want to talk to me anymore.
The nurses were very hands-off once we decided to be engaged in the process and have a voice in what was going on. After that experience, I felt my sister did not get the support she needed and deserved.

I felt the microaggressions and discrimination in the room; I believe she was being treated a certain way because of how she looked. After that experience, I realized how much birthers don’t understand labor stages, and I wanted to be trained as a doula. I did not want to be in that situation again and not know exactly how to advocate or what birthrights are.

Why do you feel vital health information is not being given during pregnancy and birth stages? Does it seem there’s an endless choice not to provide birthers the information they need?

That question has so many nuanced answers but to break it down into two parts:   

1) Unfortunately, in our country, we have medicalized birth. So instead of home births, birth centers, and care of midwives, we’ve relied heavily on obstetrics and gynecology. In a perfect world, we would have this collaborative care because there are times when the medical system needs to intervene in the birthing process. But that number is low.

But still, we are conditioned and socialized to believe that the expert in the room is the white coat (the doctor), and yes, they bring a lens and knowledge of expertise. However, in the work of a doula and prenatal education, I work around empowering clients and birthing people. I empower clients and birthing people to see that they are the expert on their bodies so that it’s more of a conversation. Which would lead to the second point.

2) You have been in your body all of these years, and that is valuable knowledge, information, and experience that needs to be brought to the table. Generally, as Black women, whether in the medical system, corporate, or the political system, our voices are often silenced. They are usually not honored as valuable. So that conditioning carries over, and those biases come into play when we get into birthing in the medical system. So, unfortunately, that’s a systemic institutionalized problem that we have around the voices and the bodies of, Black women, especially Black birthing people and Black womb holders, in this country.

So we are not given information because we are not seen as the ones who are knowledgeable in this area, yet historically, we birthed this country. Yes, Historically, we were responsible for our babies and those of White families in America. So when it benefited them, we were the experts, but with our bodies, we needed regulation.

How do you empower Black Women to advocate for their needs and bodies?

It starts by planting the seeds, even before signing a contract. Even when I’m talking contracts and making things accessible for people, like creating payment plans, I empower them to tell me what they need. I find out how they feel or the relationship with their provider, if they’ve been able to speak up as an advocate, or if they felt silenced. I ask a lot about what they know about their birth. 

Just going through the stages of birth and even talking about the body’s anatomy are also in those conversations. It gives me so much information about what type of agency they feel within their body. I also do not respond with emotion to someone stating they’re pregnant; I give space for them to express how they feel about their pregnancy.

How do you feel having a doula helps in the journey of mental health and mental wellness?

I’ve done a lot of community organizing advocacy, specifically trauma-informed care, which I would like to call a healing center. But trauma-informed work centers a lot around grief. So on my team, I have a licensed therapist because, as a doula, you need to have counseling techniques to hold space for all of these emotions. However, I need to have a resource when it goes beyond my scope of practice.

But experiencing emotions is also expected, and a big thing for me in this work is protecting the maternal memory. I don’t want you to survive birth. I want you to thrive; I want birthers to come out with no trauma added. Because in this country, we know that Black women are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth or childbirth-related complications. So we have stood still in this place where we want them to live, and I don’t want them to live. I want them not to incur more trauma and be happy with their birth journey.

Do you feel Black women are returning to a more holistic approach to birth?

Yes! I believe we are reclaiming our holistic practices, and I know I am on the journey of remembering. Remembering ourselves back to our community, back to our heritage, our practices, our culture, we are putting it back together. Birth is another component of remembering our ancestral roots and recognizing that this White American way of birthing is not part of our practices. That’s why we have Doulas! We are the bridge or the translator advocating and taking the time to understand the language to ensure that Black births in our community are thriving and not resulting in tragedy.

What is something you learned when becoming a Doula?

The need for self-reflection within this work! Even though I may not be experiencing pregnancy, everything I ask a client to do, I need to be doing as well. If it’s journaling or doing an activity on the ground, I need to make sure I participate. I also like to “nest” as someone gets closer to their birth. I am also more protective of my time and energy for preparation.

What does the future of Black births look like for you?

I think what it looks like is rewriting our narrative. I want us to start reclaiming our voice as the authors of our birth stories. I want us to switch from trauma to healing. Your maternal health begins before you even conceive. So it starts with our health!

Step one of addressing this is conversations with the children we are raising. As we step into womanhood, taking our health and making it a priority, choosing providers that are having a conversation with us, and listening to us. It looks like us remembering who we are on a spiritual level and having the space to use our voice and to thrive truly.

For more information about Tanzye Hill: visit

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Anxiety and the Impact on Your Body

One component of having good physical health is ensuring that our mental health is not forgotten. Frequently we forget that even the changes in the weather can have a significant impact on our mental well-being. Anxiety, for example, is a mental health illness that impacts nearly 19% of US adults and 7% of children aged 3-17. It is estimated that about 30% of people will experience anxiety at some point in their life. With a growing number of people being diagnosed with anxiety, it is becoming more beneficial to understand what it is and how it impacts your health.

What Is Anxiety Exactly?

Anxiety disorder is an umbrella that holds multiple forms of anxiety and symptoms; according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these include:

Generalized Anxiety: 

It is characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry, and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.

Obsession Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

It is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions) such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning.

Panic Disorder

It is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms, including chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress.

Social Anxiety/Phobia:

characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations.

How Does It Impact Our Health?

Anxiety disorder or a moment of anxiety can cause rapid heartbeat, chest pain, and stomach issues. Children often cannot communicate their feelings of pressure, so it manifests in stomach pain. This stress being put on the body for prolonged periods can lead to an imbalance in hormones and impact the body’s central nervous system

These attacks on the nervous system lead to higher stress levels which can cause heart attacks, stroke, sleep issues, digestive problems, and temporary memory loss. Research also shows that anxiety disorders can make the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus shrink in size if left undiagnosed. The shrinking of this part of the brain can add to feelings of hypervigilance and distress of the brain.

How To Manage Your Anxiety?

Yoga: Yoga allows your body to reduce stress and have a better flow of breathing. Yoga can be done by yourself or in a class setting. Yoga outside in nature also for a better connection with nature and the sun.

Thought Stopping: Practicing thought-stopping techniques and breathing allows you to control negative thoughts when they appear. Thought stopping can be done by listening to music, talking to friends, or verbally stopping your thoughts. Allowing your thoughts to spiral will continue to create stress which will harm your physical health. 

Nature: Seasonal depression and anxiety have negatively impacted about 10 million Americans. Spending time outside allows the body to get the necessary vitamins and minerals it may be missing while sitting inside.

Seeking a Providor: Seeking a provider to help navigate both the emotional and physical impact. Visit the HUED directory to learn more about finding a provider for you.

Living with anxiety can put a lot of stress on the body, but having a precise diagnosis and managing tools will help you on your navigation journey.

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NEW RESEARCH: ‘Very simple intervention’ improves asthma care among Black, Hispanic patients

When it comes to asthma, Black and Hispanic/Latinx patients have more than twice as many emergency room visits and deaths as White patients. Many efforts to fix this issue, however, have been unsuccessful. In a new study of 1,201 Black and Hispanic/Latinx adults with moderate to severe asthma, researchers tested whether adding a new steroid asthma inhaler to a patient’s usual asthma medication would lead to fewer hospital visits and less serious symptoms than their usual medications alone. All patients in the study were randomly assigned to either the usual treatment group or the combination treatment group and were followed for 15 months. Each month participants completed the Asthma Control Test (ACT) survey, which measures how much a patient’s asthma symptoms impact their life. A high ACT score means that the patient’s asthma symptoms don’t have a serious effect on their daily life and activities. At the end of the study, researchers found that patients who used the steroid inhaler along with their usual asthma medication had more control over their asthma symptoms, more than 3 fewer missed days of work, and fewer refills of their standard inhaler than those who only used their usual medication. Researchers hope that this new combination treatment with a steroid inhaler will become widely used and help reduce the burden of serious asthma symptoms experienced disproportionately by Black and Hispanic/Latinx patients.

Article Citation:

Gawel, R. (2022, February 27). ‘very simple intervention’ improves asthma care among black, Hispanic patients. Healio. Retrieved March 4, 2022, from 

Study Citation:

Israel, E., Cardet, J. C., Carroll, J. K., Fuhlbrigge, A. L., She, L., Rockhold, F. W., Maher, N. E., Fagan, M., Forth, V. E., Yawn, B. P., Arias Hernandez, P., Kruse, J. M., Manning, B. K., Rodriguez-Louis, J., Shields, J. B., Ericson, B., Colon-Moya, A. D., Madison, S., Coyne-Beasley, T., Hammer, G. M., … Pace, W. D. (2022). Reliever-Triggered Inhaled Glucocorticoid in Black and Latinx Adults with Asthma. The New England journal of medicine, 10.1056/NEJMoa2118813. Advance online publication.

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NEW RESEARCH: The Potential For Bias In Machine Learning And Opportunities For Health Insurers To Address It 

In the health insurance industry, computers can be trained to study health data and use it to predict events like the chances of a patient developing a disease or being hospitalized. This is a useful tool that helps the healthcare industry better distribute resources, design outreach programs, and reduce health care costs. These predictions, however, can make unfair and incorrect assumptions about some patients because the information used to make the predictions isn’t diverse enough or collected consistently. In order to make these predictions more accurate for all groups of people, especially marginalized people of color, health insurance companies must collect more data about other social and environmental factors that affect health outcomes like race, ethnicity, gender, education level, income, and housing quality, to name a few. The insurance industry must also create guidelines for the best ways to collect this health information and use it responsibly to ensure equitable, accessible health care for all patients. 

Gervasi, S. S., Chen, I. Y., Smith-McLallen, A., Sontag, D., Obermeyer, Z., Vennera, M., & Chawla, R. (2022). The potential for bias in machine learning and opportunities for health insurers to address it. Health Affairs, 41(2), 212–218.

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NEW RESEARCH: The Black Impact Pilot Study

Improving Cardiovascular Health in Black Men Through a 24-week Community-Based Team Lifestyle Change Intervention: The Black Impact Pilot Study:

The American Heart Association uses the Life’s Simple 7 (LS7) score to measure heart health. A higher score is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and death. Black men have the lowest scores when compared to women and white populations in the United States. The Black Impact study was a community program designed to raise LS7 scores in a group of Black men with poor or average LS7 scores in Ohio. The program encouraged healthy lifestyle habits by holding weekly sessions that included physical activity and education about healthy eating, financial wellness, managing stress, and cancer screenings. By the end of the 24 week study, LS7 scores had increased by almost a full point. There was also improvement in most participants’ weight, cholesterol levels, and diet. Creating more programs like the Black Impact Study could be an effective way to improve heart health in the Black male community.

Gervasi, S. S., Chen, I. Y., Smith-McLallen, A., Sontag, D., Obermeyer, Z., Vennera, M., & Chawla, R. (2022). The potential for bias in machine learning and opportunities for health insurers to address it. Health Affairs, 41(2), 212–218.

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