There is no such thing as a mild traumatic brain injury. Even the least severe brain injury can have devastating effects — slurring of words, blurred vision, depression, and memory disorders. This is being supported by the recent data released on professional football concussions and eventual memory disorder or dementia.
For years the league has minimized or denied statistics compiled by others showing a high percentage of former players, who sustained repetitive concussions, suffered some type of brain deterioration. The league finally commissioned a study on concussions and the data revealed that football players as young as 30 were 19 times more likely to be diagnosed with a memory disorder or dementia than the national average. Players over 50 were diagnosed with dementia-related illness at a rate of 5 times the national average.
Professional football players realize that the game is tough and that they may be injured. The players have also trusted that team doctors would accurately assess their ability to play — and bench them if warranted. When a player sustains a knee injury, they are out for weeks. When a player gets a concussion, sometimes they are out only one series of downs.
The brain is in many ways more fragile than other parts of the body. It does not heal like a fracture. All of these studies are showing the cumulative nature of concussions. The treatment of concussions needs to be modified.
News Report on Concussions and Professional Football
There is another study, by Dr. Bennet Omalu, forensic pathologist and neuropathologist in Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in which another type of brain injury was identified. Dr. Omalu named it Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Dr. Omalu examined the brains of five former professional football players. Repeated concussions and sub-concussions (“build-up” effect from repeated blows to the head) incurred during the play of football over a long period can result in CTE. The brain changes in CTE include scarring of brain tissue, damage to cerebral blood vessels, and torn microfibers.
The bottom line is that professional players have to be more in tune with their health. In younger players, parents need to be more proactive on behalf on their children.
As time goes by, statistics will continue to support that brain injuries occur in contact sport participants and that the injuries can be compounded. What if you add a car accident to an old football injury or vice versa — the effects multiply.
What needs to change? Helmets? Treatment? Rules? Many people do talk about the possibilities that helmets increase the brain damage because they give players a false sense of security. There are new designs in helmets to reduce concussions. The new helmets are expensive and professional teams have not been willing to pay for them until there is more data to support that they really do reduce the number of concussions.
This information is provided as service of TSR Injury Law, a personal injury law firm serving Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington and the state of Minnesota. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling traumatic brain injury cases. Call 612-TSR-TIME for more information or contact a Minnesota Brain Injury Lawyer.