Brain Injury Lawyer

New concussion insurance plan for students

In California, Wells Fargo's Student Insurance Division is offering the Play It Safe Concussion Care plan to provide insurance coverage for baseline testing, retesting and rehabilitation care for student athletes.

Under the plan, student athletes' memory and response functions are tested and recorded at the beginning of a season. Any students suspected of sustaining a concussion retake the test to determine if there have been any changes in response times.

The insurance plan covers any treatment costs above what the student's personal health insurance covers.

Reportedly, coverage costs $350 for teams that have up to 117 members, and the initial brain function test costs about $2

NBA considering uniform standard for concussion return to play decisions

Although basketball is not a contact sport, in just the last four weeks, at least six N.B.A. players have missed games because of concussions or concussion like symptoms.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has confirmed that it is consulting with an independent neurologist and may establish a league wide policy for handling concussions by next season.

This will bring the basketball league in line with recent moves by both the National Football League and the National Hockey League to develop a uniform protocol for concussions and the important decision of when to return an injured athlete to play.

New York Sports Concussion Program

On March 22nd, the Brain Injury Association of New York State (BIANYS) will be presenting a full day program entitled: Concussion in Sports: What Everybody Needs to Know

I am pleased to participate in this important program and will be speaking from 1045-11:30.  My topic is entitled, Legal and Policy Issues in Sports Concussion Management and will review legislation being considered across the country as well as the policy issues surrounding this important topic.

The key note speaker for the conference is Chris Nowinski, Co-Founder and President of the Sports Legacy Institute. He is a renowned voice in the field of concussion research and advocacy for the prevention and treatment of sports related traumatic brain injuries. 

The program is designed to provide participants with the practical information needed to recognize, treat and prevent sports-related brain injures.  Parents, student athletes, members of school athletic programs, school nurses, neuropsychologists and physicians are all urged to attend.

The program is scheduled to take place from 9: 45 am until 4:00 pm at the Manhattan campus of St. John's University, Saval Auditorium, 101 Murray Street. 

You can obtain more information including registration by visiting the Brain Injury Association of New York State web site.


NFL to require independent medical exams to assess concussions

FOX Sports has reported an important new policy development in the NFL policies toward concussions.  According to FOX, the NFL  will now require teams to retain the services of independent neurologists and neurosurgeons to assess players following a concussion or head injury.

FOX Sports has learned that the teams were instructed to immediately find "independent" doctors and send names to the league for approval. The league will then team with the NFL Players Association's medical people to determine that each doctor is in fact an expert in this field as well as impartial to the team they are handling.   You can read the full Fox report:  NFL Implements new concussion policy. The New York Times has also followed up with a story of its own on this same subject, NFL To Shift In Its Handling of Concussions.

While this all sounds good, the concept of an “independent” examination is always something I am always cautious of.  In the area of personal injury, insurance companies routinely seek the service of “independent” medical examiners to assess our clients.  Unfortunately, these physicians are anything but independent and are in reality doctors for hire.  They understand who pays the bills and what the insurance company wants them to find and/or not find.  Time and time again, in the context of traumatic brain injury litigation my clients have been subject to phony medical examinations by neuropsychologists and neurologists who were anything but independent, ignored the available medical evidence, gave improper and incomplete examinations, relied upon faulty data and made up medicine to come to a conclusion that insurance company who was paying the bill wanted.  In fact, I call these “independent” medical examiners, Paid doctors for hire.  Other professions have different names for paid services.

The travesty of these exams came to light recently in a three part New York Times expose on “independent” medical examinations in the workers compensation context.  The physicians were retained by third party providers and understood what expectations were regarding their opinions.  These physicians tailored their opinions in favor of those who were paying for their services. You can read about these worker's compensation medical examinations.

I have also observed the same problem in the context of "independent" examinations arragned by the league to determine NLF disability claims resulting from head trauma.  Once again, these exams are routinely a sham producing inaccurate, incomplete and bias conclusions that prevent deserving players from receiving disability benefits for brain injuries.

I am all in favor of taking the decision away from team physicians and team trainers, but believe that players need the ability to retain their own physicians to provide advice and make important decisions for them.