FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-09-26
Concussions and TBIs have been receiving widespread attention in recent years amidst growing concerns about the long-term effects of head injuries. After sustaining a traumatic brain injury, many people are unable to work due to long term symptoms. People who develop symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, memory loss, personality changes or dramatic mood swings after sustaining a blow to the head are encouraged to seek medical attention, and to consult with a lawyer about seeking Social Security disability benefits if they are unable to work because of their symptoms.
Professional football players are especially susceptible to traumatic brain injuries and concussions. Currently there are several widely publicized NFL brain injury lawsuits. The number of persons in the lawsuits has been steadily increasing, now including a total of 3,377 football players, according to the Associated Press. The players accuse the NFL of failing to inform them of the dangers associated with sports-related concussions and traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs.
NFL Brain Injury Lawsuits
The players claim the league knew of the risks associated with repeated head injuries but ignored concussion warning signs such as dizziness, headaches and confusion, and failed to take steps to prevent long-term brain damage. Many of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit complain of persistent mental and cognitive problems that they believe were caused by repeated blows to the head throughout their football careers. These long-term problems make it difficult to work and earn a living.
Concussion and Its Effects
The NFL controversy has led to a number of brain injury studies that experts hope will improve their understanding of how the brain responds to the repeated impacts involved in football and other high-impact activities.
At the Center for Brain Health in Dallas, Texas, researchers studied 34 former professional football players, tracking their behavior and performance on tasks that involved cognitive skills like memory, reasoning and problem-solving. The researchers found signs of depression and cognitive deficits in 14 of the players when measured against normal levels. Many of the players also underwent MRI scans, some of which revealed damage to the brain tissues.
Another 50 veterans of the NFL are participating in a study by the Detroit Medical Center and the Traumatic Brain Injury program at Wayne State University. The study will involve advanced MRI techniques to identify structural changes in the brain and detect damage to the brain’s white-matter fibers. Researchers also hope the scans will help identify markers of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition caused by repeated, mild TBIs that leads to progressive cognitive decline similar to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.