Cameron West, former Olympic wrestler, debunking concussion myths

A Former W.W.E. Wrestler Taps in Against Concussion Deniers

The science behind brain injury, including the issue of whether the brain can recover from trauma after repeated concussion, has been a long-running controversy. Now, a former Olympic wrestler is going against the tide by debunking the concussion myths that have dominated the modern day.

Cameron West, who was not selected for the US Olympic team in both 1984 and 2008, became the first to challenge the concussion myths when he penned an op-ed for the Daily Mail on Sept. 11.

“When I was growing up, we wrestled four-man tag team matches – and I was a wrestler,” West states in the op-ed. “No one knew what head trauma could do, they just knew that they were supposed to be professional athletes.

“As an Olympic wrestler, I have been knocked unconscious with my head on the mat. Yet, despite the horrific injuries I’ve received over the course of my career – some so severe that I suffered head trauma in matches and was forced to retire.”

West’s op-ed has stirred a firestorm of controversy. People have labeled him a “sophomore wannabe” and accused him of cherry-picking scientific studies to support his case, but the former Olympian has remained mostly calm about the controversy and even encouraged others to get involved in the debate.

“It’s important that everyone understands that I have not had a single study that says, ‘Well here’s an experiment that says this,’” West writes in the op-ed.

In fact, the study West cited did not say that the repeated head trauma caused the brain to heal – it said that repeated trauma could “alter the brain’s volume, shape, water content, and even the number of blood vessels in the brain.”

The study also said that, while repeated head trauma could cause brain swelling, the damage was limited to the hippocampus – the same brain region that has been linked to depression.

“The bottom line is that the long-term consequences of repeated head trauma are still being debated,” West concludes in his op-ed. “But science continues to tell us that head injury is a risk, not an inevitability.”

West’s opinion

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