Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal injury attorney with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P., felt compelled recently to tell everyone that even baseball players may succumb to the side effects of traumatic brain injury.
“Former Cincinnati Reds baseball player, Ryan Freel, who was only 36-years-old, was recently found dead in his apartment. Police indicated his death was a suicide as the result of a gunshot wound,” said Schuelke. “This was a player who had readily admitted that he had sustained at least ten concussions during the course of his career.”
Freel was a noted player and “one that fans and other players considered to be fearless, if not reckless on the playing field,” according to Schuelke. He took “chances that often panned out for him, but may have given him an up close and personal meeting with traumatic brain injury. He once missed 30 games after a rough collision with a teammate resulted in a concussion.
“He was also known to run into walls, jump into seats and slam into other players on his own team and the competition, going flat-out, no holds barred to make a catch. He was famous for diving grabs that saw him land hard and get an awful jolt in the process. He played hard. He played to win. His head took serious hits and some not so serious hits that all added up.
“As yet, there is no official word that Freel had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or a listed official cause of death. It is only known that he took his own life, and it will spark yet another public debate about repetitive head injuries in sports.
“If nothing else, perhaps the message is becoming clear, that there ‘are’ signs to watch for with chronic traumatic encephalopathy: depression, trouble with alcohol, poor impulse control, aggression, paranoia, confusion and memory loss,” he said.
“And more importantly, perhaps it is now clear that brain injuries are not exclusively limited to football or hockey players, but stalks the playing fields of other contact sports as well. It’s time to do something to address the issue.”