A Philadelphia personal injury lawyer believes that the findings from a pilot study out of the University of California Los Angeles that signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) reside in the brains of living former NFL players “is a major breakthrough for players searching for a means to diagnose CTE while they’re still alive and could be a watershed moment for ex-players suing the league (Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas #120900326) for their concussion-related injuries.”
Attorney Richard P. Console Jr. of Console & Hollawell wrote that “proving the existence of injuries is at the heart of any personal injury claim. Confirming the presence of CTE was only thought possible at autopsy, which was a major hurdle for players to get over in pursuing their claims against the NFL. If this new research is reliable, living ex-players could have an easier path to showing how the league’s alleged negligence contributed to their conditions.”
CTE is a neurodegenerative disease that displays symptoms similar to dementia, including changes in mood, aggressive behavior, memory loss, and depression. Repeated blows to the head cause a buildup of tau proteins in the brain, which leads to the development of the disease. UCLA researchers noted that these proteins constrict brain cells effectively killing them or causing significant alterations. Brain scans conducted on living former players reportedly showed concentrations of tau protein in areas consistent with those found in the brains of deceased NFL players at autopsy. Doctors found evidence of CTE in the brains of several players who committed suicide in recent years, including Chargers linebacker Junior Seau and Falcons safety Ray Easterling.
Console added that more test results are necessary before considering the research reliable in a courtroom setting.
“What you don’t want is evidence or medical testimony that’s easily contested,” he said. “While players may want to jump on this research as a Holy Grail type moment for them, it’s still early in the process. More tests are necessary before we can consider the tests reliable. These early results are certainly encouraging for the players who are suffering, but we need to see more than five tests on five living players.”
The ESPN story reporting on the study’s findings can be found at: http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/8867972/ucla-study-finds-signs-cte-living-former-nfl-players-first-time