Are Things Changing with Brain Injuries?

Oct 4, 2009

Over the past couple of weeks, there’s been a lot of media coverage on the effects of brain injuries and concussions in football. We’ve seen two articles from Alan Schwarz of The New York Times, as well as stories from The Washington Post and The New York Daily News:

October 1, 2009

N.F.L. Dementia Debate Could Intensify

By ALAN SCHWARZ

For the past decade, Brent Boyd, a former N.F.L. line

man who began experiencing memory loss and dementia-related symptoms in his 40s, has received relatively low payments from the National Football League’s disability plan because the plan-appointed doctor concluded that football “could not be organically responsible for all or even a major portion” of his condition. Read the rest of the article by clicking HERE.


Then there’s coverage about a new Congressional hearing into what the NFL may have known over the years from the numerous studies that have ended “inconclusively.” And even the NFLPA has decided to jump into the fray by announcing a committee “to study the effects of concussions and head trauma on players.”

Hall-of-Famer and former Congressman Steve Largent talks about some of the “cognitive problems” he’s beginning to acknowledge as the price he’s paying today for the game he played yesterday.

October 3, 2009

Congress to Hold Hearing on N.F.L. Head Injuries

By ALAN SCHWARZ

As debate over football’s long-term effects on players’ cognitive function continues among doctors and the N.F.L., the discussion will soon move to Congress.

Representative John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced in a statement late Friday afternoon that the committee planned to hold hearings on the impact of head injuries sustained by N.F.L. players, “and what can be done to limit them and compensate the players and their families.” Read the rest of the article by clicking HERE.

Even the Seattle Times had comments from local favorite, Lofa Tatupu, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks that seemed to echo a typical young player’s response about long-term injuries.

Brain-donor Tatupu not fazed by NFL dementia study

Lofa Tatupu has had multiple concussions. He’s one of the first three active NFL players who have agreed to donate their brains for research after death. Read the rest of the article by clicking HERE.

NFLPA Forms Committee to Study Head Trauma on Players

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The NFL Players Association announced Friday that it has formed a committee to study the effects of concussions and head trauma on players.

“The health, safety and welfare of our players is never just an issue of collective bargaining,” DeMaurice Smith, the union’s executive director, said in a written statement.

According to the union’s announcement, the committee is to study both the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of concussions and other brain injuries in current players, and the long-term effects of brain injuries on players and how they might be reduced or eliminated. Read the rest of the article by clicking HERE.


NFL study shows football players at greater risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s

By Michael O’Keeffe
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Updated Wednesday, September 30th 2009, 12:13 PM

Steelers Hall of Famer Mike Webster suffered from dementia and depression after his NFL career.

Puskar/AP

Steelers Hall of Famer Mike Webster suffered from dementia and depression after his NFL career.

A new NFL-commissioned study determined that pro football players suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related ailments far more frequently than other Americans – the first admission from the league that football players are more at risk for memory-related diseases than the national population.

The study, conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, is a boon to retired NFL players and their advocates who have claimed for years that the league and its Players Association have ignored the long-term health risks posed by concussions and other football-related injuries. Read the rest of the article by clicking HERE.

Former NFL players not impressed with results of study about head injuries

BY Mitch Abramson
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Friday, October 2nd 2009, 4:00 AM

Former Houston Oiler Elvin Bethea is hopeful that NFL will pay attention to latest concussion study.

Philip/AP/AP

Former Houston Oiler Elvin Bethea is hopeful that NFL will pay attention to latest concussion study.

Bobby Bell, a former NFL linebacker was sitting next to ex-NFL defensive end Ed (Too Tall) Jones, ho was sitting across from former Jet Wayne Chrebet, who was sitting diagonally from Chris Doleman, a former defensive end for the Vikings.

The dining hall was filled Thursday with ex-NFL greats dressed in golf apparel who were on hand to participate in the fifth annual Joe Namath March of Dimes Celebrity Golf Classic at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale. But they also served another purpose: their presence qualified as a testimony to the rigors of life in the NFL.

As the former players ambled to the putting green a short distance away, their slow gait suggested the movements of a stalled car. Read the rest of the article by clicking HERE.

While there’s enough to be cautiously optimistic, most of the old-timers are cynically pessimistic because they’ve seen it all before. Many of the older players see all this flurry of interest as nothing more than a bargaining chip while the NFLPA and the NFL are posturing in pre-lockout negotiations. Looks like we’ll just have to wait and see.

6 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Are Things Changing with Brain Injuries? – Dave Pear's Official Blog | Webmaster Tools
    October 4th, 2009 at 8:24 pm #

    [...] More here: Are Things Changing with Brain Injuries? – Dave Pear's Official Blog [...]

  2. Dave Pear
    October 4th, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

    Dave Pear Super Bowl Ring
    The NFL can no longer duct tape the brain injuries sustained by the players!

    As more and more facts become available, the league will be forced to address these serious and life-changing injuries.

    Furthermore, the current disability system for disabled players is illegal and violates ERISA Law. The League will not take responsibility for the serious neck, back, knee, shoulder, etc. injuries sustained on their own football fields.

    The current programs in place to address these injuries are gibberish and whitewash in an effort to mislead Congress. I know because I’ve tried to access them and they’re ALL a waste of time.

    If the NFL doesn’t recognize these injuries, how are we to expect them to recognize head injuries and repeated concussions?

    Three things that will help change this rampant dishonesty:

    1) Bad publicity;
    2) Congress; and
    3) Court of Law.

    The NFL is drowning in money but they have ruthlessly disowned the retired players who are the makers of the game.

    Regards,
    Dave & Heidi Pear

  3. Seth Joyner
    October 4th, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

    Seth Joyner
    Gentlemen,

    While the PA and the league dance around the issue, current and former players are suffering. As I have begun to put together a coaching enterprise aimed at helping our youth, current and retired players, I was fortunate enough to run across a process that could shed some light on what is happening with players suffering from concussions. I went through a process called brain-mapping and found some very revealing things about my brain and some of my personal issues. There is a solution as well as some education on the matter of concussions. Neurofeedback will help with the healing, I have been informed. I have added it to my business plan and will periodically keep everyone updated as I learn more and become more educated about it.

    Seth Joyner
    1986 – 1998
    Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals,
    Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos

  4. Scott Bolzan
    October 5th, 2009 at 9:51 am #

    Scott Bolzan
    Dave,

    My name is Scott Bolzan and I played in the NFL for only 3 seasons but here is my story. I thought it would interest you. I also serve as the membership director for the NFL Alumni AZ chapter.

    Here are some links to news articles about me. Please feel free to contact me.

    ABC News on August 20, 2009
    http://tinyurl.com/yd7cqun

    East Valley Tribune August 16, 2009
    http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/143079

    “THE FORGOTTEN”
    THE MAN OF 46 YEARS WHOSE LIFE WAS DELETED

    Scott Bolzan unfolds a compelling, inspirational and courageous journey through his life. He shares his drive to overcome obstacles with his ingrained values and learned discipline. With a “never give up” attitude Scott has persevered through the loss of his first daughter, drug addiction of his son, career defeats and challenges as an NFL player, pilot and owner/entrepreneur of a successful private aviation company and a devastating brain injury with profound memory loss. Hear how a man maintains a marriage of 25+ years while remaining fully engaged in the lives of his two children, successfully balancing career endeavors in light of adversity. With a strong emphasis on “family first”, Scott exhibits outstanding strength to move forward through extraordinary life challenges…

    Scott Bolzan
    Cleveland Browns

  5. John Hogan
    October 5th, 2009 at 1:25 pm #

    John Hogan Disability Attorney
    Yes, it is good news that the NFL is finally acknowledging the problems stemming from concussions. The bad news is that the benefits may only apply to current and recently retired players. In an opinion piece published in USA Today, NFL Executive Vice President Harold Henderson noted that the League has been performing neuropsychological tests on current players. I was delighted to hear this, as I wasn’t sure they knew what neuropsychological testing was. When I handled my first NFL disability case about six years ago, the DICC discredited the opinion of my expert neuropsychologist because “…he was not an M.D.” (They are typically Ph.D.s) In the cases where I have won NFL disability due at least in part to concussions, there was good documentation of the concussions themselves, and proof of the resulting limitations.

    This is in contrast to Brent Boyd’s case, where the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the retirement board did not abuse their discretion in denying his case: “What is transparent from the record is that the cause of Boyd’s disability is far from clear. That is, the evidence can reasonably be interpreted to conclude that Boyd’s disability either is or is not linked to his football career.” Like any disability case, you can’t just allege a problem and present a possible cause, you need proof.

    So, how all the information that is coming out will affect older retirees is up in the air. However, it should be of benefit to many guys if we can improve the disability plan to remove the 15 year limitation for football degenerative benefits, and remove the retirement board’s discretionary authority so that cases which are appealed to the Courts can be adjudicated on a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard.

    John Hogan
    Disability Attorney

  6. George Visger
    October 25th, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    George Visger
    Seth,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I just returned from a 3-day evaluation at the Amen Clinic in New Port Beach, CA, with my wife and 10-year-old son, Jack, on Wednesday, 10/20/09. I had to fight with The Travelers – the 49′er’s Work Comp carrier – for 3 months to get myself approved and finally convinced them my wife needed to attend to bring the Doctors up to speed on what I am like, as I can’t remember what I did this morning – much less 14 years ago when we first got married!

    I developed hydrocephalus (water on the brain) during my second season with the 49′ers in 1981 and underwent emergency brain surgery early in the season to have a VP shunt installed. That shunt drains spinal fluid from my brain to my abdomen.

    I have since had 8 shunt revisions (brain surgeries), with up to 14-day stays in ICU for each, in addition to several grand mal seizures over the years. My evaluation by Dr Amen shows major deficiencies in several areas of my brain, and Dr. Amen had me rated at 80 % disabled (I’m a wildlife biologist and own – or am a partner – in 4 different enterprises). It’s getting increasingly harder for me to function on a daily basis, and I feel compelled to get my story out WHILE I am still can. I’m sure there are hundreds if not thousands of voiceless brothers like me out there. Despite all of this I have received a total of ZERO from the NFLPA, as the vast majority of us old warriors have.

    It’s time we pooled our strengths and took these crooks to task. What they’ve been getting away with for years is CRIMINAL, and they should be held LIABLE for all the pain and suffering our brothers and families have faced for decades.

    George Visger
    San Francisco 49′ers 1980 & 1981