WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Zachary McAuliffe 10.07.2013
Posted In: football at 10:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
league of denial book cover

Hidden History of Concussions and the NFL

New book reveals connection between football and brain injuries

A new book set for release Tuesday called League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth is set to challenge the NFL and their denial of a connection between concussions and football.  Written by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, investigative reporters for ESPN, the book claims the NFL has not only known about the connection between concussions in the NFL and long-term brain injuries for about 20 years, but the league has been actively trying to cover up these facts. The suicides of Junior Seau as well as former NFL players such as the Bears’ David Duerson and the Eagles’ Andre Waters have brought this issue to the forefront of players’ and fans’ minds. All three players are thought to have suffered severe brain damage from injuries while playing football, all of which lead to their unfortunate suicides. The NFL has claimed for years they had no knowledge of any relation between the brain injuries sustained from concussions and the deaths of professional players. Even in the face of a recent lawsuit from players, the league held firm to their stance. The league did settle the recent lawsuit out of court for $765 million, and many questions were raised asking if the league has been honest with how much they know about the possible link between concussions and football.  For a long time, concussions in the professional level of football were not seen as a big issue because no one knew of the long-term effects. Former New York Jets defensive lineman Marty Lyons talked with Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com where he described his own sideline concussion experience.  Lyons said whenever a player would come off the field, the physician would hold up some fingers, ask how many and, despite the player’s answer, the physician said, “Close enough.” A couple plays later, or even the next play, the player would find themselves on the field once again.  “That wasn’t the doctors or trainers saying, ‘You’re OK,’” Lyons said in the interview. “I’m not saying the league didn’t know, I’m not saying the players didn’t know. It was part of the game.”  According to the authors of League of Denial, the cover-up of how much the NFL knew about the connection started when the former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue created a concussion committee in 1994 to better understand the effects of concussions on players. A few members of the committee came forward in 1995 saying concussions were not “minor injuries” as previously thought. These claims were quickly hushed by the NFL.  Another claim the book makes is that around 2000, some of the country’s top neuroscientists told the NFL the big hits in football, especially those considered head-to-head, led to not only concussions, but also what is known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Some of the symptoms of CTE are higher rates of depression, dementia, memory loss and brain damage. The NFL, rather than publishing these findings and telling players of the potential harm, made no such effort and tried to ignore the facts. Then in 2005, the authors report the NFL tried to persuade a medical journal to retract articles and findings on concussions and their effects on individuals. The journal in question refused and the findings continued to circulate without interference.  The authors spoke with Dr. Ann McKee, a former assistant professor of neuropathology at Harvard Medical School and one of the leading professionals on the link between football and brain damage, who said of the 54 harvested brains of deceased NFL players, only two did not have CTE. However, all of these findings are not just exclusive to professional football. Youth, high school and college football players are also at a high risk for concussions.  A report from 2007 titled “Concussions Among United States High School and Collegiate Athletes,” found that about 300,000 people aged 15 to 24 suffered traumatic brain injuries every year from contact sports. This number is only second to brain injuries sustained from motor vehicle accidents.  This same study also found of the total number of concussions from other collegiate sports, including boys’ and girls’ soccer and basketball, football was responsible for more than 40 percent of the concussions. Concussions in high school sports have even led to the death of young athletes. Jaquan Waller and Matthew Gfeller are two football players who died in North Carolina after head injuries sustained during high school games this season. A study from the University of Pittsburgh found that over the past decade, 30-40 high school football players have died from concussions, and the likelihood of contact sport athletes to receive a concussion is 19 percent.  Changes are coming to the NFL, however, most notably in the minds of players. Bengals’ cornerback Brandon Ghee received two concussions in back-to-back preseason games against the Falcons and Titans. Ghee was forced to take a five-week break from contact because of these injuries.  In an interview with The Enquirer, Ghee said if it weren’t for the recent deaths and lawsuit, he would have wanted to go back to play immediately. Now though, he’s not so sure. “After the second one you have to think about your kids and family,” Ghee said in the interview. “You don’t want any long-lasting issues.”
 
 
by Bill Sloat 09.24.2012
Posted In: News, Sports at 03:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
nfl-logo copy

Cincinnati Research Team Uncovers Grim NFL Stat

Retired football players die at high rates of Alzheimer’s and ALS

So much for glory days on the gridiron. Playing pro football makes it far more likely than normal a brain can turn into mush. And there’s elevated likelihood these once powerful bodies will shut themselves down with Lou Gehrig’s disease.    Disturbing new data from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health lab in Cincinnati says retired NFL players are dying from Alzheimer disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at rates four times higher than the U.S. population. Other neurodegenerative diseases kill retired NFL players at about twice the norm. The study appears in this month’s issue of Neurology, a medical journal affiliated with the American Academy of Neurology. Overall, retired football players live longer and are healthier than most Americans, especially the linemen. But some of the players who passed, caught and defended are clearly beset by excessive amounts of neurodegenerative disorders later in the lives.   Former quarterbacks, running backs, fullbacks, receivers, defensive backs, linebackers and safeties comprise the biggest group of former players who suffer. All were in the so-called “speed” positions, players who took hits that included high-acceleration head impacts.    For the pro football study, the Cincinnati-based research team looked at health records of 3,439 retired NFL players who had five seasons in the league between 1959 and 1988. The researchers tracked down 334 death certificates across the nation. Of those, 17 had a neurodegenerative disorder listed as the cause of death; 14 had been in speed positions.   (Cardiovascular disease claimed 126 of the ex-NFL players; cancer took 85).   The NIOSH team said their findings add to a growing collection of evidence that shows football players face an increased risk of neurodegenerative disease. Most previous studies have focused on long-term health effects of repeated concussions. Besides finding increased death rates from Alzheimer’s, ALS (which often is called Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and Parkinson disease (about three times the national rate), the Cincinnati scientists raised an entirely new concern. They said football players have elevated death rates from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is a pathologically distinct neurodegenerative condition. It sets in years after head-knocking and is linked to a progressive decline in neuron functioning. It can change the ability to think and makes it difficult to move about because the brain doesn’t work as it should.    Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which goes by the initials CTE, isn’t reported on many death certificates because the diagnosis has only been recently recognized.       Everett J. Lehman was lead author of the study; others who worked on it were Misty Hein, Sherry L. Baron and Christine M. Gersic.  The researchers said their findings cannot be applied to other professional sports. And the team says more information is needed about the impact of football injuries: “Because our cohort was limited to longer-term professional players, our findings may not be applicable to other professional and nonprofessional football players. However, recent autopsy studies have reported pathologic findings of CTE in college-age and professional football players with relatively short playing careers. We did not have data on player injuries and conductions.  If chronic mild to moderate concussion is an actual risk factor for neurodegenerative mortality, the magnitude of the risk may depend on the intensity and frequency of brain injuries incurred over a number of years. … Finally, we did not have information on environmental, genetic or other risk factors for neurologic disorders.”NIOSH did not say it found a cause and effect for the higher than normal number of Alzheimer and ALS deaths. But the scientists said they had no doubt “that professional football players are at an increased risk of death from neurodegenerative causes.”
 
 

Seau’s Death Demonstrates Conflicted Reality of Football

0 Comments · Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Last week, former San Diego Charger and New England Patriot Junior Seau, a future Hall of Famer, committed suicide. Like former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, the 42-year-old Seau shot himself in the chest. Last February, before shooting himself, Duerson sent a text to several family members.  

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