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Can concussion constrain the Caped Crusader?
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  1. E Paul Zehr1,2,3,4,5,6,7,
  2. Bruce Wright2,3,4,8
  1. 1Rehabilitation Neuroscience Laboratory, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2Division of Medical Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3Island Medical Program, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  4. 4Centre for Biomedical Research, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  5. 5Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  6. 6Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  7. 7Human Discovery Science, International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  8. 8Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr E Paul Zehr, Centre for Biomedical Research, University of Victoria, Petch 041f, Victoria, BC V8P 5C2, Canada; pzehr{at}uvic.ca

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Introduction

A popular ‘Snickers’ commercial from 1996 shows a hard collision in American football that leaves a player supine on the turf. This is followed by an exchange between the sideline coach and player:

  • Coach: “Look around—where are you?”

  • Player (slight furrow of brow while thinking): “In New York.”

  • Coach: “Who am I?”

  • Player (smiling): “Coach!”

  • Coach: “Who are you?”

  • Player (looking very serious and replying in a low tone): “…I'm Batman…”

The message of the Snickers commercial is that when concussed, a person might believe that they are actually Batman. We are wondering whether Batman himself has ever been concussed and, if so, when asked by Alfred if he knew who he was, might Bruce Wayne answer “an NFL quarterback?”. This paper looks for any evidence of concussion in the big screen representation of Batman that would suggest he might give that type of answer.

While historically there have been numerous definitions of ‘concussion’, the most commonly accepted medical diagnostic definition is that derived from the 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in 2012 in Zurich: “Concussion is a brain injury and is defined as a complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by biomechanical forces”.1

Concussion has been a pernicious, pervasive and under-reported health issue in sport and in public life.2 ,3 Where available, data on the prevalence and incidence of concussion show an overall injury rate of 2.5 per 10 000 athletic exposures4 and statistics from the NCAA show concussion rates increasing by 7% over a 16 year study period.5 Guzkiewicz et al reported a prevalence of ∼5.5% for both Division III and High School Football and that once a player had experienced a concussion, the likelihood of a second concussion that season was tripled.6 Concussion and the long-term risks of …

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