Brett Favre was a leading NFL quarterback for two decades, and last week he admitted in a national interview that he is beginning to experience memory loss. Favre told the radio interviewer that he couldn’t remember his daughter playing soccer even though she had played soccer for eight years – and that it scared him.
Does the risk of brain injury to anyone – from a professional player to a school sports athlete – scare you?
Back in August 2013, the huge lawsuit brought by over 4500 former football players, against the NFL for damages resulting from traumatic brain injuries that occurred from concussions that the players suffered on the field, was settled (subject to court approval) for $765 million settlement. As part of the deal, the NFL will provide financial help to players with a concussion-related TBI as well as paying for research and other things. The settlement was made without any admission of liability by the NFL.
Among those plaintiffs was Tony Dorsett, former Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos star running back, who has also revealed to the media that he is, like Favre, beginning to experience memory problems associated with football-related brain injuries.
This isn’t over for the NFL – or for other organizations (including college and high school teams) – because the very real danger of permanent injury from playing American football remains very, very real.
As explained in a recent article published by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, not only are football concussions still a big, big problem – but there is another head injury risk that isn’t getting talked about very much right now: CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head. CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s. However, recent reports have been published of neuropathologically confirmed CTE in retired professional football players and other athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.
CTE can cause serious, severe injury to the human brain from hits that no one considers to be dangerous. It is the repetition of small impacts to the head over time that results in this form of brain injury — the kind of hits that football players at every level of the game can experience on the field, in almost every play that’s made.
This expert opined that right now there simply isn’t enough scientific knowledge available to know what is safe or not safe for the human brain to be involved in the present from of American football, period.
Therefore, parents – please consider whether or not your child should play football and if he (or she) does join the football team, then make sure that everyone (your child, your child’s coach, your child’s fellow players) is aware of the risks involved in head trauma and that any signs of brain disturbance from a headache to dizziness or more is respected by everyone as a need to leave the field.
For more about School and Playground Injuries see our Kenneth J. Allen Law Group web site resources page as well as our blog posts dealing with brain injuries.