Acknowledging the reality of TBI in sports

Last week’s $765 million settlement by the National Football League (NFL) concluded a lawsuit in the works for over a year [TTA 7 Sept 12] that was brought by more than 4,500 players and their families. The more legally minded will argue that the NFL ‘got away with it’ before the season started; they admitted to no causal role between the game and traumatic brain injury (TBI) or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can only be confirmed post-mortem. The financial settlement sets small caps relative to the nature of the illness and the cost of care. What’s Unsettled About The NFL Concussions Settlement (Forbes) Also N.F.L. Agrees to Settle Concussion Suit for $765 Million (New York Times)

click to enlargeIf not an admission, player injury response may have been a factor in pushing the NFL into the 21st century. Concussion and injury assessment is a component of ‘Surface on the Sidelines’, part of a $400 million deal announced in May for official NFL adoption of the Microsoft Surface Pro (BusinessWeek). Teams have used iPads in many areas away from the sidelines due to outmoded league regulations, but the New York Giants’ medical/trainer staff used iPads last season to assess player injuries and concussions [TTA 23 Oct 2012]. Surface Pros are now loaded with the X2 app and database which stores player testing and medical history. Team doctors and trainers can now take down information on the field, make assessments and also to administer player self-testing. This allows faster determination of  injury and if needed, to pull the player, although it cannot do what Gizmag‘s headline claims it will: Could Microsoft Surface help the NFL to prevent brain injuries? (photo, SurfaceForums.net)

But if the NFL is sincere about mitigating concussion and sub-concussion (leading to CTE) through better helmet design in their tests with the Army [TTA 3 August], research with the NIH, better diagnosis on the field and even changing style of play, other sports such as hockey, soccer (football ex. US) and rugby, including their high school and university versions, will have reason to be grateful for the NFL’s moves in this area [TTA 5 June]. (This Editor is waiting for a restoration of a sane weight limit below the current Brick Wall for defensive positions–reduced weight, reduced likelihood of injury.)

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