Tag Archives: defense

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald, Olympic Gold Medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar, and Super Bowl Champion Phil Villapiano pledge brains to Concussion Legacy Foundation

Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert A. McDonald, three-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Nancy Hogshead-Makar, and former Oakland Raiders linebacker and Super Bowl champion Phil Villapiano pledged earlier this week to donate their brains to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which collaborates with the VA and Boston University as part of the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank.

The announcements of Villapiano and Hogshead-Makar were planned as part of the VA-hosted Brain Trust: Pathways to InnoVAtion, a public-private partner event which brought together many of the most influential voices in the field of brain health to identify and advance solutions for mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Secretary McDonald’s announcement was not planned for the event.

“As I listened to the very powerful personal stories from Veterans and the challenges the world’s top researchers are working to overcome in TBI, I made a decision: I decided to join the hundreds of Veterans and athletes who have already donated their brain to the VA Brain Bank so that I may, in a small way, contribute to the vital research happening to better understand brain trauma,” said Secretary McDonald. “This is a very, very serious issue, one that affects Veterans and non-Veterans alike. I’m proud to do my part because I know that the researchers at VA are committed to improving lives and they have my full support.”

The pledges were made as part of the Foundation’s My Legacy campaign, which encourages athletes to leave their legacy by helping solve the concussion crisis through brain donation or other means. Villapiano pledged in honor of his former teammate, Hall of Famer Ken Stabler, who died in 2015 and was diagnosed with CTE at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank. He joins former Oakland Raiders teammates George Atkinson, Art Thoms, and George Buehler, who pledged last month.

“I’d go back and smash my head into anybody, any time. I loved that kind of stuff. Little did I know what has happening inside our heads,” Villapiano said. “Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a big problem and all of my friends are scared to death.”

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Nine Schools Added to NCAA-DOD Concussion Study

By Brian Burnsed, of the NCAA

 

Nine schools have been added to the largest-ever study of concussion in sport.

 

The NCAA-Department of Defense Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium study enters its third year this summer and now includes 30 institutions across the country. The nine new schools will begin baseline screening for all their student-athletes this summer.

 

More than 170 schools have inquired about taking part in the study.

 

All student-athletes at each of the participating institutions receive a comprehensive preseason evaluation for concussion and will be monitored in the event of an injury. Data collected at each school are evaluated by a team of researchers led by Steven Broglio, director of the University of Michigan’s NeuroTrauma Research Laboratory; Michael McCrea, director of brain injury research at the Medical College of Wisconsin; and Tom McAllister, chair of the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry.

 

The researchers have collected more than 25 million data points from 16,000 student-athletes at the 21 institutions already participating. After adding nine new testing sites, researchers estimate that more than 25,000 student-athletes will take part over the course of the three-year study.

 

“The important expansion of the CARE Consortium to include a diversity of Division I, Division II, Division III and historically black college and university participants further solidifies this study as a groundbreaking initiative,” said Brian Hainline, NCAA chief medical officer. “It is a remarkable collaborative and inclusive effort.”

 

The NCAA and DOD have dedicated $30 million to the concussion study and an initiative to spur culture change regarding concussion. Participating schools receive a portion of that funding to cover the cost of carrying out the research.

 

New participants in the CARE Consortium study

 

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania – Division II

University of Chicago – Division III

University of Miami (Florida) – Division I

University of North Georgia – Division II

University of Pennsylvania – Division I

Temple University – Division I

Wake Forest University – Division I

Wilmington College (Ohio) – Division III

Winston-Salem State University – Division II

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Criminal Defendants Add New Concussion Tool to War Chest

By Paul D. Anderson, of Paul D. Anderson Consulting

(Editor’s Note: What follows is a repost from www.NFLconcussionlitigation.com)

As the science of concussions and their long-term effects advance, so too does the many ways in which a criminal defendant may seek to be set free.

Criminal defendants and their lawyers are looking to prior sport-related brain injuries as a causative factor for the illegal behavior.

According to the Observer-Reporter, former high school football player, Jordan Clemons, is facing the threat of the death penalty after being charged with brutally murdering his girlfriend.

Clemons’ lawyer recently filed a motion with the court citing his client’s extensive history of brain injuries, including multiple concussive and sub-concussive blows from football. His lawyer requested that a neurologist and psychologist evaluate his client.

The court, correctly, granted his request.

Clemons’ lawyer explained the purpose of his motion, “Diminished capacity is often the phrase used when a defendant’s state of mind does not meet the legal requirements for first-degree murder, which requires a premeditated, willful and deliberate killing with specific intent to kill. If capacity is diminished but a defendant is found to have committed the act, it falls to a lesser degree of murder.”

While not a complete defense, Clemons’ lawyer is seeking medical evidence to establish that his client lacked the necessary mental state to be found guilty for first-degree murder, which could potentially allow the jury to find Clemons guilty of a lesser charge such as second-degree murder. It also sets the stage for the introduction of mitigating factors if Clemons is found guilty of first-degree murder.

This could mean the difference between life in prison and death.

Lawyers have an ethical obligation to provide competent representation. This is an ever-evolving ethic, which is especially true in the rapidly advancing area of “neurolaw.”

A recent decision by the Alaska Court of Appeals highlights the necessity of investigating a client’s brain-injury history.

In Starr v. State, A-11250, 2014 WL 2834502 (Alaska Ct. App. June 18, 2014), a woman was convicted of second-degree murder after stabbing her boyfriend. She subsequently sought post-conviction relief, contending that her lawyer provided ineffective counsel by failing to investigate her concussion history. In her motion, the defendant included an affidavit from a neuropsychologist who opined that Starr’s “behavior surrounding the stabbing was consistent with her having suffered a concussion.” Id.

In reversing the trial court’s decision to deny the defendant’s application for post-conviction relief, the Court of Appeals admonished the trial court for violating the defendant’s due process rights when it “skipped Starr’s failure-to-investigate claim…[and] deprived Starr of the opportunity to establish that she has actually suffered a concussion and that the concussion had impacted her culpability….” Id.

This case breathes new life into the word “competency.” A lawyer clearly has an ethical obligation to investigate his or her client’s brain-injury history and pursue all possible defenses.

As evidenced by the recent cases like Clemons and others, lawyers are taking this ethic seriously.

Expect Titus Young’s lawyers to assert this defense as well.

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