Monthly Archives: December 2011

NFL Takes Another Step Toward Implementing an Appropriate Concussion Policy

The NFL revealed earlier this week a plan to install a “certified athletic trainer” at each game, who will monitor play and provide medical personnel with “any relevant information that may assist them in determining the most appropriate evaluation and treatment.”

Their role will be “to provide information to team medical staffs that might have been missed due to a lack of a clear view of the play or because they were attending to other players or duties,” according to the league. However, the trainers will not diagnose or prescribe treatment.

Like the instant replay official, the trainer will be situated in a sky box, where he or she will have access to video replay as well as direct communication to each team’s medical staff. However, they will not have the authority to pull a player from a game.

The league added that “in most cases, the athletic trainer will be affiliated with a major college program in the area or will have previously been affiliated with an NFL club.”

The NFL is clearly hoping this step will help what is fast becoming an alarming issued for the league.

“Clubs also were reminded of the importance of team coaching and medical staffs continuing to work together to ensure that full information is available at all times to medical staffs,” according to the league.

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The NBA Institutes Concussion Protocol

After announcing in March that it was considering establishing a concussion policy, the NBA has enacted new protocol that determines when players can return from head injuries.

If a player is diagnosed with a concussion, he will have to complete a series of steps to confirm that he’s healthy enough for competition. Once he is symptom free, the player must make it through increasing stages of exertion- moving from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills- while ensuring the symptoms don’t return after each one. Then the neurologist hired to lead the NBA’s concussion program will be consulted before the player is cleared.

Before the opening of preseason games, each player will undergo baseline testing. Players and coaches will also take part in annual training and will be required to sign acknowledgment forms that they understand the importance of reporting symptoms.

Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan, will serve as director of the NBA’s concussion program.

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NFL Targeted Again with Concussion Lawsuit

A new group of former pro football players has filed a lawsuit against the National Football League, alleging it failed to take necessary steps to protect players from long-term brain injuries in the face of overwhelming medical evidence that on-field concussions lead directly to such injuries. The suit also contends that NFL officials – including the League’s own medical committee – repeatedly concealed from players risks associated with concussions and also dangerous side effects of medication administered by NFL personnel.

“An important new element to the lawsuit,” according to Christopher Seeger of law firm Seeger Weiss LLP, “is its focus on a potent anti-inflammatory medication called Toradol. Players allege that they were repeatedly administered the drug, often just prior to games, to reduce on-field pain, a practice that is reportedly still widely condoned by NFL teams today. Medical experts have found that Toradol – manufactured by Roche – can mask symptoms of head injury while inducing greater cerebral bleeding, greatly increasing the risk of long-term brain damage.

“The use of pain reducing, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Toradol in professional sports is a dangerous practice potentiating greater injury and long-term damage to players. This is especially relevant in the case of concussions in the NFL due to the extreme high- impact forces incurred, the highly competitive nature of the players, the environment that fosters post-injury play and the importance of the brain to human function.

The suit was brought in New Jersey federal court by 11 former players: Joe Horn, Chris Walsh, Jim Finn, Scott Dragos, Jerome Pathon, Isaiah Kacyvenski, Brad Scioli, Matt Joyce, Sean Ryan, Paul Zukauskas and Sean Berton. They have over 70 years’ combined experience playing for the NFL, for more than a dozen different teams. The ex-players all allege that they suffer from onset of brain impairment, and experience a host of maladies, such as short-term memory loss, frequent headaches, extreme lack of concentration and focus, sleep disturbances, vertigo, dizziness and depression.

In addition to Mr. Seeger of Seeger Weiss, the players are represented by Marc Albert of the Law Offices of Marc S. Albert, as well as James Cecchi of the New Jersey firm of Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody & Agnello, P.C.

The lawsuit maintains that the NFL’s protocol was to return players who had suffered concussions back to play shortly after they sustained the injury – often during the same game. The suit contends that this “irresponsible and dangerous” practice was followed for years, despite overwhelming medical evidence that all concussions – including seemingly mild ones – permanently damage the brain and hasten mental decay, including early onset of senility and dementia, especially when they recur frequently.

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