Monthly Archives: February 2014

Attorney: Even a minor blow can lead to a concussion

Brooks Schuelke, a brain injury lawyer  of Perlmutter & Schuelke, LLP in Austin, wants the world to know that researchers “are finding out that even a very slight blow is all that is needed to begin the cascade of faulty brain signals being sent through the brain’s white matter.”

Brooks Schuelke

The studies indicate that there are differences in the white matter of the brain in contact sport athletes versus non-contact sport athletes, according to the attorney. The study group results raise the question as to what factors may account for the changes in memory and learning ability and whether those changes are short-term or long-term.

“The study involves 80 college footballers and hockey players that had no history of concussions. Each athlete had a brain scan and took several memory and learning tests. Subsequently, group members received a high-tech helmet that recorded the acceleration rate of the head after an impact,” he said, adding the data from the concussion-free players was compared to athletes who played in non-contact sports.

The whole group was broken out into subgroups that identified players scoring lower than what was expected on their tests, according to Schuelke. Roughly 20 percent of contact sport players and 11 percent of non-contact sport players showed a change in the nerve networks on the right side of their brains. In summary, the changes in white matter in athletes playing contact sports were higher in the poorly performing group, which indicated a likely link to how hard and how often a player had been hit in the head.

The fact that low level concussions may also cause serious brain issues later in life for younger players is something parents, schools and other educational institutions need to take into consideration when designing sports programs, according to Schuelke. The latest revelations that a concussion has the capacity to double an individual’s risk of developing epilepsy within five years is yet another reason to closely examine the risks of sports that typically involve head injuries.

“There are approximately 173,285 brain injuries every year, sustained as a result of playing sports. Most of the victims are boys who play football and girls who participate in cheerleading. Of the 173,285 head injuries, at least 70.5 percent of the patients are between the ages of 10 and 19-years-old. These figures are food for thought about the safety of our younger generation,” he added. “If your child is playing a contact sport and they have not been properly warned about the risks involved or have not been provided with the right type of protective equipment, and they get hurt, we need to discuss compensation for those injuries.”

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MLB Makes Good On Promise to Protect Players

By Paul D. Anderson, ESQ

(Editor’s note: This post originally appeared earlier this week in NFLConcussionlitigation.com, a site founded by Anderson)

While many organizations—NCAA, NHL and the NFL—take reactive measures, the MLB has taken steps to ensure it is not caught with its pants down, facing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit.

The Players’ Association and MLB announced that they have agreed to enact a home-plate-collision rule for the 2014 season. The rule seeks to limit violent collisions at home plate that have caused season-ending injuries, concussions and the potential for long-term cognitive impairment.

Mike Matheny, whose career was cut-short due to multiple concussions, had this to say about the proposed rule:

I’m not on a mission here to try to do anything except do what’s right,” [ ] “First of all, make people aware that the concussion thing is real and not just in football and hockey. It’s real in baseball, and I did a real poor job of communicating that early on. And the other thing is, let’s take a risk-reward analysis of this thing. What is the risk of the good of the game, let alone the individual, and the long-term repercussions? And what’s the reward?”

“I don’t know how it’s all going to play how except for the fact that we think it’s the right thing. And the right thing is to try to keep our guys on the field.”

Although there is no firm scientific data that proves this rule will reduce concussions, common sense clearly dictates that it will.

Unlike the NCAA, which repeatedly makes empty promises about player safety and simultaneously manufactures doubt about enacting hit limits, MLB has chosen not to wait.

MLB recognizes the threat and has taken proactive measures to ensure their players are protected at all levels.

I applaud MLB for placing player safety over profit. Perhaps this will be a wake-up call to the NCAA and NHL. Players are being exposed to needless brain trauma. Stop the excuses and live up to your professed obligations.

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NFL, Under Armour and GE Receive More Than 450 Submissions to Head Health Challenge II

More than 450 proposals from 19 countries were submitted to Head Health Challenge II, the NFL, Under Armour (NYSE:UA) and GE (NYSE: GE) announced today. The challenge will award up to $10 million for new innovations and materials that can protect the brain from traumatic injury and for new tools for tracking head impacts in real time. The challenge is part of the Head Health Initiative, a collaboration to help speed diagnosis, improve treatment and protect against brain injury.

According to site manager NineSigma, between September 2013 and February 11, 2014, when the challenge closed, more than 40,000 people from 110 countries visited www.headhealthchallenge.com. The submissions will now be evaluated by a panel of external judges that include leading experts in brain research and engineering solutions for training and protocols. Winners will be announced at a later date.

Specific focus areas for Head Health Challenge II include:

  • Potential to improve the prevention and identification of brain injuries
  • Monitoring and identifying injury
  • Protection against injury or its consequences
  • Training

“The response to this challenge demonstrates the global interest in brain protection,” said Jeff Miller, NFL Senior Vice President of Health and Safety Policy. “The number of great scientific minds committed to protecting the brain provides hope that we will see great innovations that have the potential to protect athletes in all sports at all levels. We are proud to work with innovative partners like GE and Under Armour to help advance science.”

“Striving to make the field of play safe across all sports is a world-wide mission, which has been demonstrated by the global response to the Head Health Challenge II,” said Kevin Haley, SVP Innovation, Under Armour. “We are committed to this cause and look forward to working hand-in-hand with the NFL and GE, reviewing the submissions and finding those innovations that can have a positive effect on all sports and help protect athletes at every level.” 

The Head Health Initiative is an innovative four-year, $60 million collaboration to speed diagnosis and improve treatment for mild traumatic brain injury. The goal of the program, guided by healthcare experts, is to improve the safety of athletes, members of the military and society overall. The initiative includes a four-year, $40 million research and development program from the NFL and GE to evaluate and develop next generation imaging technologies to improve diagnosis that would allow for targeting treatment therapy for patients with mild traumatic brain injury. In addition the NFL, Under Armour and GE launched two open innovation challenges to invest up to $20 million in research and technology development to better understand, diagnose and protect against brain injury.

The first challenge launched in March and closed in July with more than 400 submissions from more than 25 countries.  

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