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New Study Links Depression to Concussions in NFL Players

According to a front page story in today's New York Times, "the rate of diagnosed clinical depression among retired National Football League players is strongly correlated with the number of concussions they sustained, according to a study to be published today."

This study challenges the long standing position of the NFL which continually denies the strong link between depression and concussions which has been confirmed in numerous other studies.

The  Times calls this study the most comprehensive study of football players to date and truly puts the NFL on notice that it's time they treat concussions and the life long consequences of this invisible injury seriously. 

The study, which will appear in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, found that of the 595 players who recalled sustaining three or more concussions on the football field, 20.2 percent said they had been found to have depression. That is three times the rate of players who have not sustained concussions. The full data, the study reports, “call into question how effectively retired professional football players with a history of three or more concussions are able to meet the mental and physical demands of life after playing professional football.”

I am truly amazed that even in the face of the overwhelming evidence, league doctors can still challenge the link between psychiatric damage and brain trauma. 

On June 16th, the NFL is holding a major meeting to discuss the effects of concussions.  You may recall that last year I chaired a symposium in New York on Concussions in Sports sponsored by the Brain Injury Association of New York State.  I had invited the NFL and the Chair of it's Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee to participate and was flatly turned down.  For the last two months I have been in communication with the league and its new chair of the Concussion Committee to request an invitation to attend this important meeting.  To my amazement, they have again rejected my overtures.

Can the league really believe that it can have an impartial discussion of these important issues when they close their doors to public advocates for those who have sustained traumatic brain injuries? 

Read the full New York Times story.



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