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NFL Policy on concussions called shocklngly callous

The following editorial appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune.

I'm glad to see that there are others who share my view of the outrageous conduct of the NFL when it comes to concussions.

"Policy on concussions is shockingly callous"

November 23, 2006 

Pray for Troy Polamalu and his family. The star safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend could become only the latest NFL player to suffer permanent brain injury because of the league's remarkably callous attitude toward concussions.

Medical understanding of brain trauma has steadily improved in recent times. A general consensus exists that if you have one concussion, you're more likely to have a second, and each subsequent concussion is likely to increase in severity.

Specific research on football players fits in with this consensus. A 2003 study showed college football players with one concussion were more vulnerable to subsequent brain injuries. Other research confirms the vast toll taken by such injuries. A University of North Carolina study of nearly 2,500 former NFL players found that 61 percent had suffered concussions and about one in six believed that as a result they had suffered long-term brain damage, including depression, slurred speech and blurred vision. Other research links concussions and Alzheimer's.

Amazingly enough, this doesn't appear to matter much to the NFL's go-to guy on concussions, a New York rheumatologist (no kidding) named Elliot Pellman. He continues to argue that it is sometimes safe for a player with a concussion to quickly resume playing – sometimes in the same game. Some NFL teams heed him instead of the universe of neurosurgeons and neuropsychologists who disagree.

Which is why – even though Polamalu suffered at least his sixth concussion last Sunday – the Steelers may allow him to play again this Sunday. How can the NFL players union possibly tolerate this? How can league Commissioner Roger Goodell? The NFL's concussion policy isn't just blithe and oblivious. It's barbaric.

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