Brain Injury & Concussions, Brain Injury and Sports
Reported concussions up by 58% in NFL during 2015
Reported concussions increased by 58% in statistics reported by the NFL yesterday. But's that's just part of the problem. What about sub-concussive blows and repeated head trauma and the long term brain damage that these injuries cause? Not surprisingly, the NfL doesn't want to discuss this. See my comments in today's NY Daily News.
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NY Daily News Interview on Concussion Movie
Gratified to be interviewed for special Daily News feature article on “Concussion” movie appearing in Sunday editions of paper. We all need to be diligent and speak out for the 5.2 million Americans suffering from the permanent consequences of traumatic brain injury. All brain injuries are serious and must be treated as such by the NFL, insurance carriers and health providers. Opening Eyes and Minds: Former NFL QB Ray Lucas, CTE activists weigh in on Will Smith’s ‘Concussion’
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Concussion a Good Opening Gambit
Shana and I attended an advance screening of the movie Concussion, with a group of sports writers and newscasters. Will Smith gave a compelling performance as Bennet Omalu, and his quest to determine and understand the cause of a specific type of brain damage, later named CTE, first discovered in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steeler, Mike Webster. This was Omalu’s movie and his story, based on the 2009 GQ exposé, Game Brain by Jeanne Marie Laskas. This was not a documentary.
The title for the film, “Concussion” is misleading. The film is not about concussions and the failure on the part of the league to inform players about the signs and symptoms of concussions, the need to refrain from returning to play before a player is healed, or the potential life-long consequences of a concussion. It is a film about the work of Bennet Omalu and his efforts to understand Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
Importantly the film is based upon a true story, but is not a complete story. It is an excellent presentation of the path Omalu took and the painstaking investigation into the cause Mike Webster’s death. Omalu’s dogged pursuit of answers led to the discovery of the connection between football and brain damage and opened the door to further research. The movie indicated his conflict with the NFL in accepting this information, which the NFL still disputes.
This movie opens the door to a more important conversation, about trauma and brain damage that must continue. The cinematic decisions about the portrayals of different characters and the complete omission of any reference to the Concussion Legacy Foundation in Boston, the past and current role of Commissioner Goodell and the NFL marketing department in deflecting criticism were interesting choices made by the film’s writer and director.
It was a compelling introduction for the public to the health issues generated by trauma in football. This theme must be expanded. If this movie provokes a national conversation about the larger issues associated with all types of brain damage, from football, other sports and everyday accidents, then it has been a great public service. It would be misleading, if however, it leaves the impression that the problems have been remedied or that the only public health concern is CTE. This is the tip of the iceberg of the full-range of chronic life-altering effects of concussions.
Brain injury is a chronic condition with life-long consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), each year there are over 200,000 visits to emergency departments by children under the age of 19 suffering concussion related problems from organized sports. Omitted from these statistics are visits to urgent care facilities, physicians’ offices, and cases where concussion is not the principal diagnosis. The CDC estimates that the accurate number is between 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports related concussions documented each year! This is a true public health crisis. Labeling a condition does not address treatment issues and how we, as a society, address the impact of a chronic condition that has consequences for families and society.
We applaud the efforts of all those involved in making this important film, and hope it engenders continued investigation and research into not only prevention, but improved identification and treatment options that will assist this vulnerable population.
SHANA DE CARO, ESQ. is a member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of America and immediate past chair of the American Association for Justice Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group.
MICHAEL V. KAPLEN, ESQ. is a Professorial Lecturer in Law teaching the only course in traumatic brain injury law at The George Washington University Law School, a member and immediate past chair of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Coordinating Council, three term president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State and a past chair of the American Association for Justice Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group.
DE CARO & KAPLEN, LLP is a New York based law firm with a focus on representing victims of traumatic brain injury throughout the nation. Shana and Michael are frequently invited to lecture attorneys and public advocacy groups nationwide on the legal issues pertaining to brain injury, public health concerns and the impact of brain injury on the lives of its victims.
Shana and Michael authored the New York Law Journal expert column on brain injury law and the chapter on brain injury law in the special issue of Psychiatric Clinics of North America.
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Shana and I are honored to have been invited by Sony Pictures to an advance screening of the movie Concussion next week, which brings to light the NFL’s attempt to conceal the truth about concussion danger from NFL participation. Although this film is based upon revelations concerning CTE, the movie focuses the spotlight on this public health epidemic of brain injuries by revealing just the tip of the iceberg of the devastating injuries sustained by NFL players.
The movie is scheduled to open on Christmas day.
We look forward to sharing our thoughts about the film following the screening.
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Roger Goodell Jokes About Concussions
A concussion is a brain injury. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should know better.
Concussions are no laughing matter. Read my sentiments in this New York Daily News Article.
Brain Injury and Sports
Parents Need to Read This
The risk of permanent brain damage and CTE far outweighs the benefits of slamming heads in football for our nation's youth. Don't let your kids play football
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Frank Gifford and CTE : It's time that the NFL gets serious
Former professional football player and TV commentator Frank Gifford, who died in August at age 84, suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease. The only known cause of this condition is repetitive head trauma. Gifford played in the NFL for 12 years and during that time suffered from repetitive head trauma.
“We as a family made the difficult decision to have his brain studied in hopes of contributing to the advancement of medical research concerning the link between football and traumatic brain injury,” Gifford’s family said in a statement released Wednesday.
Although all the details of Frank Gifford’s condition in the last years of his life are not known, the fact that CTE was found on autopsy adds further weight to the mounting evidence that football is a concussion delivery system causing permanent consequences to players. The fact that Gifford and all players diagnosed with this condition past the settlement date in the NFL class action concussion litigation is further proof that the settlement that was reached was unfair and needs to be rejected by the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
The danger of CTE is something that the NFL can no longer hide from all ignore. Players with this condition must be compensated and effective measures must be put in place to reduce to present and future players. It’s time to end the double talk of the NFL and get serious about head injury and brain damage.
The family said it decided to disclose his condition “to honor Frank’s legacy of promoting player safety dating back to his involvement in the formation of the NFL Players Association in the 1950s.”
My partner, Shana De Caro and I authored the amicus brief on behalf of the Brain Injury Association of America arguing against the NFL settlement. We argued to the court that the settlement was junk science and was not a fair or balanced settlement for players suffering from brain damage.
For more information, read the story on ESPN: Hall of Fame player Frank Gifford suffered from CTE, family says.
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Concussion Legacy Foundation Awards Ceremony this Evening in Boston, Mass
I will be in Boston, Mass this evening attending the annual awards ceremony for the Concussion Legacy Foundation, formally known as the Sports Legacy Institute. Foundation headed by Chris Nowinski has been instrumental in alerting the public to the dangers of concussion and brain damage in all sports; providing needed education on the signs and symptoms of concussions and most importantly leading efforts to keep players out when there is any suspicion of a concussion. The group through their affiliation with Boston University also has led efforts to understand and appreciate the effects of cumulative brain trauma and its causation to a Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Keep up the great work!
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CTE continues to haunt NFL
Public Broadcasting Network in their news show Front Line reveals new research strongly supporting link between CTE and repetitive head trauma
Pleased to be interviewed on this important subject by International Business Times
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NFL influences Sony in Production of Concussion Movie
The NY Times reports this evening that they have discovered Wiki leaks showing how the NFL pressured Sony to alter their upcoming film, Concussion which documents the discovery of the link between professional football and the development of CTE. Rad the full article Sony Altered ‘Concussion’ Film to Deter N.F.L. Protests, Emails Show
Unless the NFL is placed under oath, the public will never know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about what the NFL knew and when they knew it.