The Long-term Effects of Concussions
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions. Effects are usually temporary, but can include problems with headache, concentration, memory, judgment, balance and coordination. Although concussions usually are caused by a blow to the head, they can also occur when the head and upper body are violently shaken. These injuries can cause a loss of consciousness, but most concussions do not. Because of this, some people have concussions and don’t realize it. Every concussion injures your brain to some extent and requires time and rest to heal properly.
Sometimes after a concussion you may feel as if you are not functioning as well as you did before the injury. This is called post-concussive syndrome. New symptoms may develop, or you may continue to be bothered by symptoms from the injury, such as:
- Changes in your ability to think, concentrate, or remember.
- Headaches or blurry vision.
- Changes in your sleep patterns, such as not being able to sleep or sleeping all the time.
- Changes in your personality such as becoming angry or anxious for no clear reason.
- Lack of interest in your usual activities.
- Changes in your sex drive.
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or unsteadiness that makes standing or walking difficult.
The NFL and Concussions – A Brief History
2002 through 2007 – Dr. Omalu and Dr. Robert Cantu examine the brain tissue of various deceased NFL players (Mike Webster, Terry Long, and Andre Waters). All three subjects suffered multiple concussions during their respective NFL careers, and all three subjects presented clinical symptoms of sharply deteriorated cognitive function and psychiatric symptoms such as paranoia, panic attacks and major depression before their premature deaths. The studies conclude that Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) triggered by multiple NFL concussions, represented a partial cause of their deaths. The NFL’s Response? NFL MTBI Concussion Committee members Ira Casson, Elliot Pellman, and David Viano identified the report as “some bullshit theory,” essentially shrugging off the conclusions.2005 – A University of North Carolina’s study of the association between recurrent concussions and late-life cognitive impairment in retired professional football players reveals of the 2,552 participants, those suffering three or more concussions had a five-fold prevalence of mild cognitive impairment diagnosis and a three-fold prevalence of reported significant memory problems. The NFL’s Response? The NFL MTBI Concussion Committee publicly attacks the integrity of the conclusions, casting doubt on the results of the survey and its inadequacy. 2007 – All 32 teams required to send their doctors and athletic trainers to the MTBI Committee’s first league-wide Summit on Concussions where independent scientists presented conclusions and findings linking football related brain injury and concussions and long-term effects of player concussions. What came of the summit’s suggestions? Ignoring the Concussion Summit findings, the NFL produced a pamphlet for players designed to inform them about the league’s policy on concussions, the symptoms and signs of concussions, and related subjects. The pamphlet included the following text:
“If I have had more than one concussion, am I at increased risk for another injury? Current research with professional athletes has not shown that having more than one or two concussions leads to permanent problems if each injury is managed properly. It is important to understand that there is no magic number for how many concussions is too many. Research is currently underway to determine if there are any long-term effects of concussion in NFL athletes.”
2008 – Boston University’s Dr. Ann McKee studies the brain tissue of two more deceased NFL players, John Grimsley and Tom McHale, finding that both deceased players’ brains showed distinct signs of CTE. The NFL’s Response? In response to Dr. McKee’s studies, former NFL MTBI Concussion Committee Co-Chair, Dr. Ira Casson, characterizes each study as an isolated incident from which no conclusion could be drawn. Dr. Casson further maintains that “there is not enough valid, reliable or objective scientific evidence at present to determine whether… repeat head impacts in professional football result in long [-] term brain damage.” 2009 – The NFL funds a study surveying 1,063 retired NFL players conducted by the University of Michigan showing results that retired NFL players suffer from dementia at higher rates than the general population. For younger retirees, ages 30-49, the rate was 19 times that of the general population and 6.1% of retired NFL players age 50 and above reported being diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other memory related illnesses, compared to 1.2% for all U.S. men of comparable age. The NFL’s response? The NFL MTBI Concussion Committee notes that this study is questionable, as it has not been peer reviewed, and is based on questions asked to 1,063 retired players chosen at random via a telephone interview. Only recently has the NFL begun to take concussions seriously. Beginning in 2009, a number of rule changes were made to limit the pervasiveness of head injuries. The suicide of ex-NFL star Junior Seau brought to the forefront concerns over the link between professional football and neurological diseases. In 2013, lawsuits against the league started started flooding into courts around the country. Nonetheless, the NFL did not accept responsibility for its past negligence. Even under the terms of its settlement of these lawsuits, the NFL made no admission of guilt.
Contact our NFL Concussion Attorneys
Brain concussions are defined as movements of the brain inside the skull resulting from an impact. Most personal injury claims are for concussions sustained as the result of impact from a motor vehicle accident. Research indicates that multiple concussions may cause or contribute to future problems such as dementia, headaches, memory loss, blurred vision, sleeplessness, and ringing in the ears. Some of the NFL players claim that their concussions have caused depression, anxiety, “explosive mood changes,” poor judgment and substance abuse.
If you suffer long-term effects of concussions sustained during your playing career, contact Pope McGlamry today. Schedule a free consultation today. We can help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.
Disclaimer: All use of the NFL mark is for informational and product identification purposes only. This post should not be taken as either medical or legal advice, but instead should act as a resource in providing general information that may be useful to the general public. Pope McGlamry is not associated with the National Football League or its affiliates.