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NFL Brain Injury Issues Cause Alarm

Over 5,000 Former Players Suffer Brain Injuries Related To Sport


A new report published by the NFL has revealed almost three in every ten former players will go on to develop debilitating brain conditions, which means that almost 6,000 of around 19,000 former NFL players will suffer some sort of brain injury related to their profession.

The study, conducted by the Segal Group, as part of a lawsuit that saw 5,000 former players sue the NFL, used a database of the medical history of retired players as part of its method.

Writing for USA Today, former New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles player Kevin Turner and Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears star Shawn Wooden said the sport has struggled to deal with the reality that brain injuries are commonplace. Mr Turner is himself a sufferer of ALS.

They said the sport has given much to its players, but added: "Unfortunately, for many, NFL football also left a legacy of brain and neurological trauma. Young, otherwise healthy men were diagnosed with serious neurological conditions."

A consequence of a failure of the sport to deal with the issue left 5,000 former players suing the NFL, with a settlement being reached last summer to help ensure assistance for players affected by brain conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, from medical support to financial compensation.

This has been opposed by a "vocal minority" in court, they noted, but the deal is expected to hold off this legal challenge.

"Once approved by the court, the revised class action settlement announced last July will finally give all retired NFL players the care, compensation and peace of mind they need and deserve," the pair stated.

While this situation relates to the US, where American football is a big-money sport, the game is played by significant numbers at amateur level in the UK.

This could run the risk that thousands of Britons who enjoy the sport may not receive the help and support they need, either in dealing with concussion arising from individual incidents in matches, or in coping with the possible long-term consequences for neurological health.

Such issues have been given an increasing level of attention in other sports, with the Football Association recently agreeing to carry out more studies into the effects of concussion in the sport.

This followed extensive campaigning from the family of the late Jeff Astle, who died from brain damage believed to have arisen from his frequent heading of heavy leather footballs in the 1960s and 1970s.

Expert Opinion
The discussion surrounding head injuries in sport is picking up pace across the world. The key thing is to conduct the necessary research so that we know what the impact of contact sports is on those that play regularly, and find measures and procedures that will protect these individuals in the future.

“However this case indicates the way head injuries have been treated in the past, with professionals playing through the pain and not taking the damage that can be caused by a head injury seriously.

“It is right that concerns over these issues are raised, but a balanced approach is vital to ensure people continue to benefit for participating in sports at all levels. Our work representing those who have suffered serious head injuries means we know how much of an impact these incidents can have on victims in the short and long-term. It is vital sporting authorities implement measures to ensure anyone suffering head injuries are given the best possible care and support and that their long-term wellbeing is the top priority."
Stephen Nye, Partner

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