Repetitive Brain Trauma and the NFL

Repetitive Brain Trauma and the NFL

Super Bowl 50 may be over, but its effects live on. Both teams had players suffer concussions – Carolina Panthers wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown and Denver Broncos linebacker Shaquil Barrett. Neither Brown nor Barrett was able to return to play in this career-defining game. These two NFL teams had an alarming nine other players suffer concussions over the course of the season. And that’s par for the course at all levels of experience and for many types of athletes.

During the 2015 season, 271 NFL players experienced concussions – up over 31 percent from 2014. In fact, these incidents are at a four-year high, although there is some controversy over whether there actually has been an increase or whether more concussions have been identified and diagnosed under new protocols. Over 4,000 former players have filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL, seeking compensation for brain damage suffered during their careers. Current settlement negotiations in that lawsuit provide up to $5 million per retired player for serious medical conditions associated with repeated head trauma.

Traumatic brain injuries in the NFL have been in the news lately since dozens of former players have been posthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This progressive degenerative brain disease has increasingly been found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma and chiefly affects the areas of the brain that are responsible for learning, memory and emotion. While helmets can help protect the skull from fractures and absorb some of the force of a blow to the head, no helmet is concussion-proof. CTE has also been seen in basketball players, soccer players, hockey players, boxers, wrestlers, autistic children, abuse victims, and military veterans.

The discovery of CTE in football players has recently been chronicled in the movie “Concussion,” starring Will Smith as pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu.

The movie dramatizes Dr. Omalu’s quest to uncover the effects of subconcussive blows after examining the brain of legendary Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, who had exhibited unusual and unexplained behavior before his untimely death at age 50. Dr. Omalu determined that tau proteins form around areas in the brain that suffer direct injury. These proteins eventually overwhelm the amount of healthy brain cells that are available to clear the brain. Symptoms of CTE include depression, memory loss, confusion, dementia, lack of sound judgment, and uncharacteristic aggression.

If you have experienced one or more of these symptoms, you may be suffering from CTE, so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis. If you believe you know the cause of your CTE or that of a loved one, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the CTE brain injury attorneys at The Mann Law Firm. We have over 50 years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Based in Macon, we proudly serve communities throughout Georgia. Contact us by calling (478) 742-3381 or by filling out our online form.