The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) went public last week with its concern about the proposed settlement between former players and the National Football league (NFL) over concussion-related injuries (case 2:12-md-02323-AB).
On September 30, BIAA filed a second motion in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania asking the court to grant the organization amicus curiae status in the case. BIAA also filed an affidavit, written by Brent Masel, M.D., National Medical Director of BIAA, and Greg O’Shanick, M.D., National Medical Director Emeritus. The affidavit outlines the organization’s “serious concerns about the flaws and limitations of the settlement as it is currently written.”
The affidavit claims that the settlement excludes numerous physical and behavioral consequences of brain injury from the list of qualifying diagnoses for treatment and compensation.
A concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), results in a wide range of neurological, physical, cognitive, and neuropsychological impairments. These impairments can appear immediately or many years after injury, requiring specialized treatment on an ongoing or intermittent basis.
The neurologic consequences of mTBI include issues with balance, depth perception, vision, eye-hand coordination, loss of sense of smell and taste, and posttraumatic headache, according to the BIAA. It can also bring about disorders such as Parkinsonism and epilepsy. In addition, mTBI also increases the risk of pituitary hormonal dysfunction, which can result in atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), fatigue, decreased muscle mass and weakness, mood abnormalities, and cognitive changes. A recent study of 68 retired NFL players found hormonal abnormalities in approximately 24% of those studied.
“The behavioral consequences of mTBI are significant,” claims the BIAA. “Studies demonstrate a marked increase in depression, anxiety, and impulse control disorders in patients with mTBI. Even subtle damage to frontal lobe systems can lead to behavioral problems and suicidal ideation.
“Many of the physical, neurological and neurobehavioral consequences of TBI are missing from the list of qualifying diagnoses in the preliminarily-approved settlement.”
Susan Connors, president and CEO of BIAA added that “the outcome of this settlement will have a significant impact on all future brain injury prevention, research, treatment, and education. What’s missing from this proposal in terms of diagnosis, treatment, education, and prevention is of great importance to the millions of Americans who experience brain injuries each year.”
To download copies of BIAA’s motion and affidavit, visit: http://www.biausa.org/NFLamicus.