Tag Archives: crisis
Concussion Expert Talks about the Prefect Storm of Factors Leading to a Concussion Problem, and Whether There Is a Crisis
Kevin Guskiewicz, co-director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at the University of North Carolina, recently discussed concussions at the Durham Sports Club.
Specifically, he talked about how some factors can combine to make the perfect storm.
“You may be only 33 years old, but given your concussion history, given your genetic makeup, given the position you played and estimated overall exposure that you’ve had, it might be smart to think about hanging it up,” he said. “Then there are other people because of those factors and the trajectory they’re on, they think it’s fine to continue to play at age 33, 34.”
He also noted that the increase in concussions does not mean there are more of them.
“We do not have a concussion crisis,” he said. “There are no more concussions occurring on our playing fields today than there was five years ago, 15, 25 years ago. The difference is that 10, 15, 20 years ago they went undiagnosed, unmanaged. Kids played through them. They didn’t know they had a concussion.”
A week from tonight, Frontline will run its expose on the NFL and what it knew about concussions as its players were enduring severe head injuries over the last few decades.
It would be tempting to say we have moved past the crisis with the NFL settlement and countless measures put in place to prevent and lessen the severity of concussions. But have we?
Not a chance. The fact of the matter is that the NFL clubs, the colleges and the high schools are still making mistakes and taking unnecessary risks. This comes primarily in the form of putting players back in before their brains have healed.
The second part of a three-part article will run in the October issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter later today, which deals with the “Reclassification of Football.” Written by Dr. Andrew Blecher, a passage in this article is highly provocative as it talks about one of the next steps that can be taken in the concussion crisis:
“The helmet must be redesigned so that it cannot be used as a weapon. The helmet’s sole purpose is to prevent skull fractures. Unfortunately its design has developed such that it is now the player’s hardest shell on his body and thus his best tool to tackle or block another player. It is used as a weapon because of its design. This is simple instinct. This must be eliminated. It cannot be simply “coached away” with a heads up tackling campaign. Helmet redesign must go along with the rule and coaching changes. The facemask must also be redesigned so as not to encourage leading or blocking with the face. The athlete must have absolutely no incentive to use the head to initiate contact. In fact, the helmet /facemask unit must be redesigned to create a disincentive to use it to initiate contact. Instead of making helmets that are “more comfortable to hit with,” we need to do the opposite. These changes may be costly and they may be unpopular but this evolution needs to happen until such time that we can prove that tackle football is safe and is no longer a research study on long term head trauma.”
This is just one example of a step that can be taken. There are others. In short, this is just the beginning in the evolution of football. It certainly cannot and should not be the end.
If the concussion issue does become a national crisis, one might point to August 29 as the tipping point.
On that day, it was reported that lawsuits were filed separately by athletes at the professional, college and high school level.
“It’s a fallacy to think this litigation will begin and end with the lawsuits filed against the National Football League,” said Paul D. Anderson, the editor of Concussion Litigation Reporter and the founder and publisher of NFLConcussionLitigation.com. “This is an area of law that is just now getting its legs.”
At the K-12 area, a Connecticut couple is suing a municipality, several of its employees, a local youth football league and the national organization that oversees it for injuries their teenaged son suffered during a 2010 football game.
In collegiate athletics, a former small college football player has sued the university, head football coach and team trainers over head injuries he allegedly suffered during practice and the subsequent treatment he received.
In the professional sports space, a soccer player, who retired three years ago because of concussions, has sued the club and coach for $12 million.
Concussion Litigation Reporter will report extensively on all three lawsuits in the next issue.