Tag Archives: Concussion / Traumatic Brain Injuries

Awareness and prevention methods might lead to a reduction in NFL concussion rates

(Credit: CBS 2)

(Credit: CBS 2)

If professional football players are really playing the game differently, the NFL correctly claims that concussion rates are 25 percent less; education and awareness campaigns must be working. The NFL data on injured reserve list players shows the significant decrease in the rate of player concussions. This news was recently promoted at the annual pre-Super Bowl health and safety news conference.

The retired NFL player lawsuits and media coverage promoted increased awareness and research into player education, injury and reporting. The 2014 season was the first in which NFL injury data was electronically collected from all of the teams in the league.

With the new methods for reporting there are more reports of injuries.

There has been a 15 percent increase in injury reporting in the 2014 season, up from last year.  “We knew it was going to be up this year, because we transitioned to the electronic medical records,” Mack said in a telephone interview, echoing Miller’s explanation. “We can’t conclude the incidence of injuries is up. We know the reporting of injuries is up.[i]

Among the data highlights, there were 59 concussions resulting from helmet-to-helmet or shoulder-to-helmet hits during the 2014 season. Last year’s number was just around twice that many. Educating players about how to avoid dangerous hits seems to lead to players avoiding head injuries.

“Players are changing the way they’re tackling,” NFL Senior Vice President of Health and Safety Policy Jeff Miller said. “They’re changing the way they play the game.[ii]

Some claim reduced practice time and new safety protocols affect injuries and reporting.

At the end of the 2013 season, New England Patriots coach, Bill Belichick, suggested that a decrease in the allowed number of practices in both the regular season as well as preseason and offseason contributed to higher injury numbers.[iii] When the U.S. Congress examined NFL concussion policies, and thousands of retired players also criticized the league, the decision was made to implement new safety measures and reduce practice times.

Technology advances for monitoring players, on site game day neurologists, and protecting receivers from being hit by the crown of the helmet are all part of a collection of new methods the NFL is using to reduce head injuries and monitor players to make sure they are blocking and hitting appropriately.

Michael V. Favia & Associates represent clients with sports injuries. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a meeting with an attorney at your convenience. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please visit the firm’s website and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.

[i] CBS New York: AP: NFL Claims Concussions Down 25 Percent. Jan. 29, 2015.

[ii] See HNi above.

[iii] See HNi above.

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Congress on Concussions: A review of recent press and activity on contact sports and brain injuries

Thursday in testimony on Capitol Hill. “That's one of the reasons we love it.”"

“UNL physics professor Timothy Gay explains the physics of football in this file photo. “American football is an inherently violent sport,” he said Thursday in testimony on Capitol Hill. “That’s one of the reasons we love it.”” Article Link 

According to research calculations conducted by a physics professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “professional football players have become so much bigger and faster than the amount of force at work along the line of scrimmage is now twice what it was when the NFL started.[i]” Professor Timothy Gay testified at a congressional hearing in Congress about the current research findings about concussions and in explaining the force of some hits in football. “A helmet-to-helmet collision at top speed is roughly the same as having a 16-pound bowling ball dropped on a player’s helmet from 8 feet up.[ii]” Is football dangerous? Yes, as professor, Gay says, “American football is an inherently violent sport,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons we love it.[iii]

Congress appears to be urging the NFL to continue making changes to its policies with respect to concussions.

VIDEO LINK: ‘This Week’: Congress on Concussions. ABC News’ Jim Avila and ESPN’s Jeremy Schapp on the recent congressional hearing on sports concussions.[iv]

Sports and safety go together more frequently than peanut butter and jelly lately. The increase in research, published findings, and incidents of long-term injuries and damages from concussions are popular topics on the field, in the courtroom and on Capitol Hill. The video linked above mentions some notable facts about sports and traumatic brain injury:

  • 250,000 kids get head injuries
  • 6 million kids play tackle or flag football
  • Players absorb 650 hits to the head every season.
  • Forces each players hitting at full speeds exceeds ¾ a ton.
  • Soccer players are the second most at risk of injury

Contrary to what many critics think, the intention behind many of the concussion lawsuits, research, publications and discussion is not about taking contact sports away, rather the goal is to teach players how to tackle safely and learn to avoid the most dangerous hits.

A change in the culture of contact sports like football is also a factor. Historically there has been what some call a “misplaced macho attitude” encouraging injured players to continue practicing and playing despite their concussion injuries. In the early days of brain injury research, less was known about the long-term effects of concussions. Today, doctors and organizations concerned with sports safety conduct extensive symposiums to share information and promote awareness.

What can or should Congress do? The video linked above suggests Congress should continue to nudge the NFL to make sure research is funded and advances are made in concussion education and prevention. The NFL can send a message that football can be played safely.

Michael V. Favia & Associates represent clients with sports injuries. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a meeting with an attorney at your convenience. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please visit the firm’s website and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.


[i] Omaha World-Herald: UNL professors take the lead at concussion hearings in Congress. By Joseph Morton, Mar. 14, 2014.

[ii] Omaha World-Herald quote from article cited above.

[iii] Omaha World-Herald quote from article cited above.

High-tech helmets and concussion safety: UW Health study

"Football helmets have evolved a great deal over the last 50 years. Current helmet designs are heavier, larger and designed to absorb and dissipate impact forces to a greater extent than earlier models used by football players."

“Football helmets have evolved a great deal over the last 50 years. Current helmet designs are heavier, larger and designed to absorb and dissipate impact forces to a greater extent than earlier models used by football players.”

Football season starts soon and players are training to take the field. From the youngest players in grade school to the professional athletes taking the field before millions of fans, concussions are frequent discussion topics. As athletes who suffered traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) file more lawsuits, the manufacturers of safety equipment strive to offer new products that could help prevent concussion injury and damage. It makes sense that a properly fitting helmet could reduce impact to a player’s head, but what about the brain? Can high-tech helmets prevent concussions?

A recent article published in Athletic Business, a popular resource site for athletics professionals, focuses on vendors offering high-tech helmets.[i] Reviewing and commenting on research by Dr. Timothy McGuine and researchers at the University of Wisconsin, AB writers ask, “Is that new technology actually doing any good? New research would say no.” The article, published by UW Health Sports Medicine, “Sports Medicine Research: Helmets and Concussions,” reports the studies of Dr. McGuine and Dr. Alison Brooks.[ii]

The Vengeance DCT is the newest helmet from Schutt Sports. The "DCT" stands for Dual Compression Technology. The 4th Generation of TPU Cushioning contains durometers that are specifically designed to absorb both high-velocity and low-velocity impacts.

The Vengeance DCT is the newest helmet from Schutt Sports. The “DCT” stands for Dual Compression Technology. The 4th Generation of TPU Cushioning contains durometers that are specifically designed to absorb both high-velocity and low-velocity impacts.

“UW Health Sports Medicine is leading a research study to assess the effect of helmet brand on the incidence of sport related concussion in high school football players.”[iii]

The AB article mentions helmets that incorporate new technology, such as one offered by Schutt Sports.[iv] The UW Health article mentions that there are, “…new helmets with claims of laboratory testing that their “helmets offer the maximum protection” or “reduce the risk of concussion.” Further, the article states, “Unfortunately, there is little, if any evidence that the use of a specific football helmet brand will make it more or less likely that a high school football player will sustain a SRC [Sport-related Concussion] while actually participating in high school football.”

Which manufacturer would you choose if you were the high school athletics professional? The helmets that perform better in a fixed testing environment could help players be safer, but to say there could be safety guarantees in an inherently violent contact sport would be a stretch. The “safer” helmets are one component of player safety. Another important element is player education. Learning how to tackle in safer manners can help prevent injury. Spotting concussion symptoms and reporting them to team physicians can also increase safety.

We look forward to following up with the UW Health researches when they compile and share the incidence of sports-related concussions among the three helmet brands the group is tracking. Michael V. Favia & Associates follows and reports on sports injury topics and trends. The firm represents injured persons including athletes suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

ABOUT THE FIRM: The Law Firm of Michael V. Favia & Associates is a successful General Civil Practice dedicated to providing personalized service and high quality representation for clients. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. Feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter and you will be kept in the loop about upcoming events and news in the firm’s practice areas including personal injury, medical malpractice, worker’s compensation, complex civil litigation and professional regulation and licensing.

 

Concussion suit: NCAA athletes file suit and seek class action

Football fan, “Theresa Owens blurted in the stands, They just killed him!”[i] Derek Owens, injured playing football for the University of Central Arkansas, seeks damages against the NCAA for failure to prevent brain trauma. Along with Owens, co-plaintiff Alex Rucks, the Northwestern University offensive lineman joins the suit also complaining of post-traumatic brain injury (“TBI”)/concussion injuries.

 Two former college football players launched a putative class action in Illinois federal court accusing the NCAA of negligence and carelessness in failing to take the appropriate steps to protect student-athletes from debilitating head injuries.

Two former college football players launched a putative class action in Illinois federal court accusing the NCAA of negligence and carelessness in failing to take the appropriate steps to protect student-athletes from debilitating head injuries.

Traumatic brain injuries can occur in professional sports and on the local playground.

This suit is one of many that plaintiff athletes are filing these days. The word is getting around that many college and professional athletics and players associations are under fire for not preventing injuries and adequately warning players of safety concerns and traumatic brain injury. For example, many suggest a helmet can protect the skull, but not the brain.

Many parents and school officials should continue paying attention to the unfortunate examples of preventable traumatic brain injuries. When Billy from down the block is hit in the helmet during a little league game and is told to brush it off and take the base, Billy’s parents should be concerned. Examples like this are too common: Billy seemed just fine until a few days later when he started experiencing motor function problems and other TBI symptoms!

What do the doctors know about traumatic brain injury?

The communities of physicians who study and treat brain injury patients often concur that: As soon as they feel prepared to address traumatic brain injuries, more data and research becomes available. One of the problems with diagnosis and prevention of future concussions is the wide variance in symptoms experienced and reported by athletes with concussions. Also, many of the tests of cognitive functioning rely on the accuracy of the victims who report details of their conditions to their treating or team physicians.

Plaintiffs’ complaint states: “The NCAA knew or should have known that its actions or its inaction in light of the rate and extent of concussions reported and made known to the NCAA would cause harm to players in both the short- and long-term.” Further, “The NCAA’s conduct is particularly egregious in light of the fact that its policies and procedures – or lack thereof – leave student-athletes like plaintiffs and members of the [proposed] class inadequately protected from sustaining, monitoring and recovering [from] brain injuries at a particularly early and vulnerable point in their lives.”[ii]

Michael V. Favia & Associates regularly works with clients in the Chicago area who are unfortunately affected by personal injuries, some attributable to brain trauma. If you want to learn more about concussion-type injuries, please call Michael V. Favia & Associates by dialing 773-631-4580 or stop in to make an appointment at one of our convenient locations. Visit Michael V. Favia & Associates’ website for more information. You can also learn more by visiting the firm’s social media pages. “Follow” them on Twitter and “Like” them on Facebook today!


[i] New York Times, November 29, 2011 by George Vecsey, College Athletes Move Concussions Into the Courtroom

[ii] Plaintiff’s complaint cited in Law360, November 29, 2011 by Allison Grande, NCAA Failed To Protect Players From Concussions: Suit