Shocking News about Football and Brain Injuries
It has been recognized for years that suffering multiple concussions or more serious traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) over time can have lasting effects on your cognitive health. It has also been widely scrutinized lately that in contact sports like football, it is common for players to sustain multiple brain injuries during their careers.
The NFL paid millions to former players who suffered from early-onset Alzheimer’s or dementia, chronic depression, and similar conditions as a result of many untreated concussions. A major motion picture was also made regarding the cover-up of the dangers of brain injuries in football players, aptly called “Concussion.”
Some attention was paid to another serious degenerative condition that is linked to multiple brain injuries, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The problem with CTE is that it is not diagnosable unless the brain is examined after death. Therefore, many people may suffer from CTE and not even know it. A new study, however, has shown just how serious the risks for CTE are and the dangers that contact sports athletes are in on a regular basis.
The Prevalence of CTE
Many former football players – who may or may not have suspected they had CTE due to certain symptoms – have been donating their brains to science so thorough research can be done on the brain damage caused from playing football and the prevalence of conditions like CTE.
A neuropathologist studied 202 brains of deceased former players who ranged in age from 23 to 89 years old. 111 of the brains came from former NFL players and research revealed shocking results – 110 of the 111 had some degree of CTE. The count broke down as follows among types of players:
- Linemen – 44
- Running backs – 20
- Defensive backs – 17
- Linebackers – 13
- Quarterbacks – 7
- Wide receivers – 5
- Tight ends – 2
- Place-kickers – 1
- Punters – 1
These players ranged from famous Hall of Fame quarterbacks to relatively unknown players – showing that anyone could be at risk.
The study admits that the results may be skewed because many brains had been donated due to the suspicion that the players had CTE during their lives. However, even if the brains of every former player who died during the study were examined and no additional diagnoses were made, 110 would still be a significant percentage of players – about nine percent, according to researchers. Of the 1,696 players in a usual NFL season, nine percent would be 152 players. So even if this study is skewed, it still demonstrates the high risk for CTE among football players.
Aside from NFL players alone, 87 percent of the 202 brains examined had CTE. This shows that NFL players are not the only ones at risk and that multiple brain injuries can lead to CTE among high school or college players, as well.
Symptoms and Effects of CTE
Symptoms of CTE can start soon after multiple concussions in young athletes or can develop years after a person has stopped playing football. The symptoms can vary in nature and severity and – due to the degenerative nature of the condition – generally worsen over time. The following are some of the symptoms of CTE:
- Memory loss
Because CTE cannot be diagnosed until after death, the symptoms are often misdiagnosed as other types of conditions or victims go without any type of diagnosis at all – simply becoming more and more frustrated with their degenerating condition and increasing struggles, often at a young age. Often, the symptoms of CTE can become so difficult for sufferers that suicide is a common cause of death. For this reason and more, focus on the development of CTE and other serious conditions as a result of multiple concussions is critical in contact sports.
The risks of suffering even one concussion should be enough to take pause when considering whether to allow your child to play a contact sport such as football. However, many, many children sign up for football every year and many turn it into a college scholarship and even a career. This begs the question – what can be done to keep these young players safe?
Many youth football programs have developed play rules that promote so-called safer tackling or have switched to flag football programs altogether. However, anytime there are that many people on the field fighting over a single ball bumps to the head are still bound to happen. There is new technology being developed for helmets that provide greater protection, however, helmets cannot completely protect from brain injuries and not every school will have the funds to switch to the newest technology.
Early detection is essential for all youth programs and schools should have people on the sidelines who can identify whenever anyone may have even possibly suffered a concussion. After any type of bump to the head, a player should be immediately pulled from the game and tested for any degree of brain injury. In addition, young players should not be encouraged or allowed to keep playing if they have suffered concussions already.
As for more elite players, the NCAA and NFL have started changing policies and rules to protect players more from head injuries. However, as long as fans want to see hard hits and exciting tackles, the NFL will likely not be eliminating the dangers of head injuries anytime soon.
Find Out How a Tampa Bay Brain Injury Attorney Can Help You
If your child suffered concussion or moderate to severe brain injury while playing sports, it could attributable to the negligence of the sports program. At Dolman Law Group, our legal team can identify whether a coach, trainer or another individual with a duty of care toward your child did not act appropriately in the situation and contributed to their injury.
TBIs are extremely complicated injuries and, therefore, any legal claim stemming from a TBI can also be complicated. Our Tampa Bay brain injury lawyers are here to help you, so please contact us for a free consultation at 727-451-6900 today.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765