The topic of head injuries (concussions and permanent brain injuries) and football has been in the national spotlight in the last several years. Many retired NFL players have been diagnosed with degenerative brain diseases after sustaining multiple blows to the head. Deceased retired players have been found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition that can only be found post-mortem. There has also been a class action lawsuit filed by more than 4,500 retired football players against the NFL, accusing the league of hiding the dangers of concussions and allowing players back in the game when they should have been benched.
The NFL has been changing its rules, trying to reinvent equipment and funding research to reduce head injuries. One of the changes involves concussion assessments. After a player is hit, he must undergo a concussion assessment. If the player fails the concussion assessment, he is taken off the field and not allowed to return to the field for two weeks. If a concussion is suspected, players are taken off the field, even if the players disagree with the decision.
Recently, a special on 60 Minutes addressed the issue of head injuries and football. One of the most interesting parts about the special was when one of NFL’s all-time great safeties, Ed Reed, was interviewed. Reed, who is now retired, said that even if a CTE test had been available during his career, he would not have wanted to know. That’s because the test may have showed CTE and he would not have been able to play the game anymore. He went on to say that he believes many players would say the same thing. Though he is concerned about his future, i.e., developing CTE, he has no regrets and would do it all over again even knowing the risks. The main reason? Football has been able to provide for his family.
Reed is not the only one who feels that way. We see this attitude in football players on the field. A couple of weeks ago, a Philadelphia Eagles defensive back, Malcolm Jenkins, suffered a concussion and admitted to returning to the game afterwards. He was injured after being tackled and hid it from the coaches and medical staff despite knowing the effects of concussions.
While changes are necessary in the NFL to reduce the number of concussions and head injuries, whether through rule changes or equipment changes, players also need to share the responsibility of managing their injuries. This type of responsibility has to be instilled in players when they are young. College, high school and even grade school athletes often do not want to disappoint their coaches or parents and may hide injuries from the coaches. Therefore, coaches and parents need to talk to their players about the importance of reporting injuries in order to avoid further injuries.
Daniel J. O’Brien, Esq. has been a life-long athlete and has helped numerous athletes injured in sports accidents. Injured athletes have legal rights if their injuries are caused by someone’s negligence. For a FREE consultation, call 877.944.8396.
Source: www.cbsnews.com (Football and the Brain)
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