(Editor’s Note: What follows is original reporting in Concussion Litigation Reporter from Eugene Egdorf of Shrader & Associates. To read the full article, please subscribe at http://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)
On March 7, 2017, Harvard Law School held its annual Sports Symposium. This year’s topic was entitled “Legal & Ethical Issues Affecting NFL Player Safety.” The event included the most well- speakers known on this topic – folks such as Chris Nowinski and Dr. Robert Cantu, co-founders of Concussion Legacy Foundation; Keynote Speaker DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFLPA, and Michael McCann, University of New Hampshire Law Professor and writer for Sports Illustrated.
While the title of the event emphasized the NFL, the real highlight was the panel discussion pertaining to the NCAA, which included the NCAA’s Executive Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Oliver Luck.
The discussion of the science on concussions and head trauma was led by Dr. Cantu with additional data provided by Chris Nowinski. Several significant points were brought out:
- Contrary to the operating myth from the NCAA and NFL, concerns over head trauma, concussions, and what we now know as CTE did not become known in the late 2000’s, but rather in the 1930’s, with articles and concerns for “punch-drunk football players” – just like boxers.
- The CTE problem is far more pervasive and the future far darker than folks want to admit. Boston University researchers have thus far examined 151 brains of former college football players, and have found CTE in 138, or 91 percent. While thus far no longitudinal studies have been done, it appears that if anything CTE and its symptoms are UNDERREPORTED. And every head trauma adds to the risk – as Dr. Cantu said ” the best analogy to CTE is cigarette smoking.”
- Science does not yet know what exposure levels are necessary to cause CTE. Onset appears to vary. But it has been found in teens. There seems to be little doubt that CTE can arise in anyone that has head trauma, and more hits makes it more likely CTE will develop.
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