Some may think that everyone means well: that school districts, team owners, company sponsors, helmet manufacturers, etc., along with parents, teachers, spouses, and medical providers are all working together to make things better for people who have been hurt in an accident and have suffered a serious brain injury or concussion.
After all, they’ve been hurt in a way that will impact them the rest of their lives — surely everyone wants them to get the help that they need, and to find ways to help them recover? No. Not true.
NFL and the NIH Money
This month, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce released its 91-page report on allegations that the National Football League took away the $16,000,000 it had donated to the National Institutes of Health to study football and head injury (specifically, CTE) because the NFL didn’t approve of the neurologist who was put at the helm of the NIH research team.
The NFL initially denied this had happened when this was reported to have happened by ESPN and Outside the Lines. Now, the Congressional Committee’s own investigators have confirmed that this really did happen.
Read the full text of the House Committee Report here (it’s a downloadable PDF). The NFL took its money back. For more on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), check out our post, ” New Movie “Concussion” Already Helping Educate Parents and Doctors on Dangers of TBI and Sport Head Injuries.”
Here’s our point: football means big business. Of course professional teams are big profit centers, but so are college teams and even high school teams can bring in revenue to certain sectors. The idea that an athlete might be permanently harmed in a simple play or even at practice isn’t enough to stop the profit-hungry powers fighting to keep those cash machines running smoothly.
Profits over people, sadly, is something that we see all too often in personal injury law and the fight for justice for accident victims and their families.
How long must professional athletes play while risking their lives and livelihoods and the quality of life for themselves and their families, all because of revenue being generated every weekend during football season?
Disadvantaged Children and TBI
It’s not just professional athletes who are victims of this profits over people attitude. We know that children who suffer serious head injuries must deal with years and years of medical care when they have suffered a serious blow to the head. Traumatic brain injuries and severe concussions mean a child must deal with a growing body simultaneously with a recovering one.
In America, there’s another factor. If you are a child of parents who do not make much money, then you’re not going to get all the care that you need in the long term. According to the University of Washington, in a study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, disadvantaged children are not getting the long term rehabilitation that they need (and deserve) after a head injury.
Why not? Money. Over 80% of rehabilitation providers in this country DO NOT TAKE Medicaid patients. So a child with Medicaid coverage and a serious brain injury may simply be left untreated. This is true even though no one knows more than health care providers that long-term rehabilitation (both physical and mental therapy) is vital for that child’s recovery. These kids need things like speech therapy, cognitive therapy, counseling, occupational therapy and more.
They’re not getting it. Because the health care providers that offer these services cannot make enough of a profit from a Medicaid patient.
(And as we know from our prior post, this is happening at the exact same time as more and more children with concussions and brain injuries suffered in a playground accident are being presented in our emergency rooms.)
Protecting Against Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussions
As personal injury lawyers representing accident victims, we see all kinds of people who are suffering from a serious brain injury. Some sustain concussions or TBIs during a work accident or a car crash. Some of them are hurt during a criminal assault or in a slip and fall in the shopping mall.
We understand that it’s not realistic to suggest that all brain injury accidents can be prevented. Accidents will happen. However, when the accidents are preventable or when the injuries are the result of someone’s negligence, then the personal injury laws can work for justice.
There are legal avenues to serve the victim and the victim’s family by helping them cover things like medical expenses and long term therapy costs. That’s why we see these football lawsuits being filed — to get these players medical care and treatment coverage for the rest of their lives, because it’s understood they are going to need it.