The tagline for this blog is The Bright Side of the World of Sports. Concussions don’t really belong on that “side” but the study and treatment of concussions and their short/long-term impact on athletes surely do.
There has been a lot of debate on the long-term effects of playing football, with stories of former professionals and even college players suffering from chronic conditions incurred or exacerbated on the field. Hard hits to the head, whether diagnosed as concussions or just “having his bell rung” may be the most serious, as now we are talking about the functioning of the brain.
Alan Schwarz from the New York Times takes a look at a new study, one commissioned by the NFL, that indicates such brain trauma may be hurting football players in greater proportion than the general population. There will surely be more studies and more debate, but at least we are seeing some action. Past, present and future players, and their families and friends deserve that.
You can find the full article by Alan at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/sports/football/30dementia.html, with an excerpt below.
Dementia Risk Seen in Players in N.F.L. Study
A study commissioned by the National Football League reports that Alzheimer’s disease or similar memory-related diseases appear to have been diagnosed in the league’s former players vastly more often than in the national population — including a rate of 19 times the normal rate for men ages 30 through 49.
The N.F.L. has long denied the existence of reliable data about cognitive decline among its players. These numbers would become the league’s first public affirmation of any connection, though the league pointed to limitations of this study.
The findings could ring loud at the youth and college levels, which often take cues from the N.F.L. on safety policies and whose players emulate the pros. Hundreds of on-field concussions are sustained at every level each week, with many going undiagnosed and untreated.
A detailed summary of the N.F.L. study, which was conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, was distributed to league officials this month.
The study has not been peer-reviewed, but the findings fall into step with several recent independent studies regarding N.F.L. players and the effects of their occupational head injuries.
(The article continues at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/sports/football/30dementia.html)