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The NFL Concussion Crisis: A Growing Awareness of Traumatic Brain Injury

The growing popularity of the NFL has been enhanced by weekly ESPN highlights showing dramatic and violent tackles. But there is a growing awareness that the jarring force of these collisions often causes concussions and even possibly traumatic brain injuries (T.B.I). Just this past week the New England Patriots announced their defensive lineman, Mike Wright, would miss the remainder of this season because of post concussion symptoms. He sustained a concussion last season and has never fully recovered. Over the past several years there has been increased research concerning the long term effects of repeated concussions on NFL players. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy or C.T.E. is a type of condition thought to be caused by repeated concussions that may result in cognitive impairment, symptoms similar to early onset Alzheimer's disease and even cases of suicide. Mike Webster, hall of fame center of the Pittsburg Steelers was diagnosed with C.T.E in 2002, followed by the suicides of his teammate Terry Long, former Philadelphia Eagles safety Andre Waters, and former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson. In Waters case the analysis of his 44 year old brain tissue resembled that of an 85 year old man with Alzheimer's. Ted Johnson, the 34 year old former New England Patriot linebacker has cognitive impairment associated with early onset Alzheimer's, depression, emotional difficulties and reportedly locks himself in his apartment for days at a time without going outside.

The silver lining from this growing NFL crisis is the increased publicity, and discussion surrounding concussions and traumatic brain injuries. Today there is a growing recognition that many recreational and sports activities and accidents are associated with concussions and traumatic brain injuries. Recently the Centers For Disease Control analyzed data from 2001 through 2009 for injuries to children and adolescents under the age of 20 years old and found the activities with the greatest number of suspected traumatic brain injuries were bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball, and soccer. The Defense Department reports that between 2000 and 2010, 200,000 military service personnel suffered traumatic brain injuries. Emergency rooms in American hospitals annually treat approximately 1.7 million diagnosed cases of traumatic brain injury.

For the past 35 years I have represented clients suffering from accident related head injuries, post concussion syndromes and trauma brain injuries. I personally experienced post concussion symptoms after being knocked unconscious in a soccer collision. With increased awareness, members of the public who have been injured and experiencing post concussion symptoms, better understand the need to be evaluated and treated by an appropriate medical specialist. Fifteen years ago, accident victims, athletes, and cyclists were less likely to associate a concussive episode, collision or fall with their symptoms of dizziness, forgetfulness, confusion, balance problems, poor concentration, and emotional difficulties. Consequently, they were less likely to seek appropriate medical and legal assistance, receive an accurate diagnosis or an appropriate referral for treatment to a rehabilitation hospital or brain injury unit.

If you have any questions or concerns about your situation involving suspected symptoms of a concussion or traumatic brain injury please do not hesitate to email me, a Boston head and spinal injury lawyer for a free consultation. Meanwhile wear your helmet and monitor your kids' sports and recreational activities!