Timed with the Super Bowl, the consumer press has been doing extension coverage of the issue of concussions, brain injury, football and the NFL. For someone who has been doing almost nothing but represent those with brain injury for over 15 years that is welcome news, even if it does come with the risk that all of the focus is on what are usually the least severe of brain injuries.
The recent stories prompted Dr. Johnny Benjamin an orthopedic spine surgeon, to write a blog about it on the Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johnny-benjamin/player-safety-in-the-nfl_b_454703.html
In his piece, “Whose Responsibility Was Player Safety in the NFL?,” Benjamin notes that Time magazine did a cover story on the topic, and that even The New Yorker has tackled it. Even Business Week recently chimed in on concussion awareness.
“Knowledgeable observers should be concerned that the medical director of the player’s union, the NFLPA, did not do enough to adequately protect his client/patients, the players,” Benjamin writes. “Virtually all meaningful advancement, dialogue and pressure that were exerted were provided by interested individuals, physician, researchers and journalists outside of the NFLPA’s medical director’s office.”
The Associated Press has been avidly writing about the concussion/sports issue. It did a story on the Zackery Lystedt Brain Project’s quest to have all 50 states pass law s setting safety guidelines for athletes who suffer head injuries.
The brain project is named in honor of a teenager who sustained brain injury when he went back to in a football after having a concussion in 2006. The advocacy group is lobbying for state laws similar to legislation on Washington state that mandates that athletes under 18 who are suspected of having a concussion must get written permission from a doctor before returning to play.
The AP also wrote a pre-Super Bowl story where it asked players on the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints teams how many concussions they have sustained. http://www.latimes.com/sports/football/nfl/wire/sns-ap-fbn-super-bowl-concussions,0,156838.story
Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove reportedly is the Saints player who has had the most concussions on his team, but he can’t remember exactly how many he has had, according to AP.
The kicker, a quote from retired NFL player Rod Woodson, is great on that AP story.
“Players are starting to realize how important it is to take care of your brain,” he said. “You only get one of them.”
Long term injury from brain damage has to be a concern at colleges and high schools, too. It isn’t only NFL players who are suffering. Here’s the take of Dr. Sharon Kay Stoll, one of the leading experts on morality and sport. http://ethicswithdoc.blogspot.com/2010/04/football-concussions-who-should-pay.html