The new movie “Concussion” continues to generate lots of chatter and public awareness of the very real dangers of sports injuries and hits to the head.
The reality today is that concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBI) can happen to professional players in the National Football League as well as young children and teenagers playing soccer or football in their school athletics program.
For more information on how your kids can get hurt playing school sports, check our our past blog posts including:
- Concussions Are Serious Danger for Girls’ Soccer: 2nd Only to Football in Student Head Injury Risk
- NFL Claims 36% Drop in Concussions: Can Heads-Free Tackle Protect Your Kid?
- Do College Athletes Have Higher Risk of Suicide Because of Sports Concussions? Yes.
- Helmets Do Not Stop Child Head Injuries and Concussions
What’s This Concussion Movie About Anyway?
On Christmas Day 2015, theatres around the country will premiere the new Will Smith movie, “Concussion,” where he stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu. Dr. Omalu is a forensic neuropathologist that discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a professional football player.
CTE was a known condition, but thought to be a degenerative disease most often suffered by professional boxers. In fact, before Dr. Omalu, CTE was called “dementia pugilistica.” Now it is recognized as a progressive brain disease that impacts many athletes including professional football players and others who participate in contact sports where they may suffer repeated blows to the head.
National Football League Helping to Raise Awareness of Concussion Dangers
Already, the NFL is trying to bolster its public image against what has got to be a pretty negative impression of the league in the upcoming film, given its subject matter, with actions that help to increase public awareness of the dangers of head injuries while playing sports — as well as educating others on how to monitor and treat concussions and TBIs.
Educating Family Doctors on Brain Injury and Concussion
One example: last month, the National Football League entered into a deal with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) to create free web seminars (webinars) designed for family doctors on how to treat and manage these kinds of brain injuries. The deal also includes creating various kinds of materials for patients and their parents on concussions and brain injuries.
You can check some of this stuff out on FamilyDoctor.org. The focus is four-fold: safety, return-to-play protocols, concussion recognition and concussion evaluation. From Robert Wergin, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians:
“Over the past few years, we’ve learned much more about the long-term effects of concussions and other head injuries. These are important public health concerns. That’s why this educational initiative is the right thing to do. It’s the right thing for physicians, and it’s certainly the right thing for our patients.”
Here’s a few of the webcasts available to doctors and their patients from AAFP:
Sports Concussions 101: The Current State of the Game
This webcast will help you define what a concussion is, identify signs and symptoms during a patient evaluation, and determine how to evaluate and treat a patient with a concussion.
Sports Concussions 102: If You’ve Seen One Concussion, You’ve Seen One Concussion
During this webcast, you will learn about the variability of the clinical presentation of concussion, how to construct a treatment plan, and when to seek consultation or referral on a concussed patient.
Concussions 103: Debates and Controversies
This final webcast in the series will help you state the concerns of long-term brain health issues in athletes, describe the limitations of protective equipment for concussions, and counsel parents about sports participation for young athletes.
NFL Paying for Conferences, Seminars, Research and More
The NFL is also funding various educational programs around the country. The Hollywood Reporter has a story that part of the NFL’s public relations campaign in advance of the Christmas Day movie premiere is the NFL’s funding of a symposium of brain injury experts at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center this month as well as one in London this weekend, called the International Professional Sports Concussion Research Think Tank.
In a recent Letter to the Editor published in the Washington Post on October 16, 2015 (”The NFL writes on concussion awareness“) Jeff Miller, senior vice president of health and safety policy for the National Football League, is quick to point out encouraging things about the NFL and its actions regarding concussions and traumatic brain injuries. Among them:
1. The NFL has made almost 40 safety-related rules changes;
2. The NFL is investing funds into independent research to advance knowledge, equipment, diagnostics and treatment; and
3. The NFL has set up “a well-established suite of programs to promote youth safety in football and across all sports.”
But Is Playing Football (or Soccer) Safe for Your Child?
It’s great that this new movie is generating so much awareness and education about the very real dangers of head injuries. Personal injury lawyers know all too well the aftermath of a concussion or traumatic brain injury, as we work with families to obtain needed things like medical care expenses, long term therapy needs, rehabilitation costs, psychological treatment, and more. Sadly, there are also times when wrongful death claims based upon TBIs and concussions must also be filed and pursued.
It’s encouraging that so many teachers, coaches, caretakers, babysitters, fellow players, school nurses, and family doctors are becoming more aware of the dangers of head injuries and how subtle the symptoms of severe injury can be with a concussion or traumatic brain injury.
However, awareness is one thing and protection is another: if Mike Dikta would not let his child play football today, then how safe is it?
How do you know if your doctor, nurse, teacher, or coach is educated and up to date on concussion prevention and injury awareness?
And if your child is hurt, what can you do to help them deal and heal from a football or soccer head injury?
These are real questions that need to be answered.