Recently a former NFL player, Bubba Smith, was the 90th NFL athlete to be diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy—also known as C.T.E.—after his death at age 66.
For those who aren’t aware of C.T.E. and this diagnosis, the disease cannot be determined until after a person’s death. Because of the rising number of head injuries and players diagnosed with C.T.E., more and more athletes are vowing to donate their brains to science in an effort to learn more about this degenerative brain disease.
However, the issue itself lays with the constant risk for athletes, specifically football players. Continuous injury to the head can lead to traumatic brain injury.
Early symptoms start mild and may seem unnoticeable to outsiders but the severity can change rapidly.
According to research, the progression of C.T.E. can be categorized into 4 stages:
- Headaches, loss of attention, lack of concentration, increased aggressiveness, and for some, short-term memory loss.
- Mood swings, increased headache, impulsivity, depression, and short-term memory loss.
- Memory loss, cognitive impairment, depression, inability to make decisions, and disorientation.
- Severe memory loss and cognitive issues, depression, language difficulties, and in many cases dementia or Parkinson-like physical impairments.
All of these things result from repeated head injuries that could have been prevented.
Serious head injuries do not discriminate—whether you’re male or female, young or old, a long-time athlete or newcomer, anyone can get one. If it happens often enough, you
If we cannot protect our professional athletes and find a way to prevent severe head injuries in sports, how can we protect our young athletes?
The answer is simple: mandate head injury education and make parents, players and coaches aware of the potentially grave outcome these injuries can have.
Head injuries will not stop unless the name of the game has changed, or American football is discontinued. While I can’t see it coming to a stop any time soon, it is possible for a change in how the game is played.
Whether it is flag football, touch football or new tackling systems, change will come for this sport.
If I were the decision-maker for athletics, I would make every single coach, parent, and player participate in a mandatory weeklong course on head injuries. After attending, they can then make the decision of if they still want to play.
As a parent of three beautiful, healthy children and as a personal injury lawyer, I cannot imagine the risk of lifetime injuries would outweigh playing football for a few years.
Author: Tim Misny | For over four decades, personal injury lawyer Tim Misny has represented the injured victim in in birth injury, medical malpractice, and catastrophic injury/wrongful death cases, serving “Cleveland, Akron/Canton, Columbus, Dayton and neighboring communities.” You can reach Tim by email at misnylaw.com/ask-tim-a-question/ or call at 1 (800) 556-4769.