Article by Edward Stone in The Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting

Attorney Edward S. Stone helps explain some of the difficulties surrounding the NFL Concussion Settlement in this article “The NFL Concussion Settlement, Traumatic Brain Injury, and CTE: Fact, Fiction, and Spin Doctoring”.  The Journal of Legal Nurse Consulting Vol. 28, Issue 3, Fall 2017, pp. 8-11.  Meanwhile, medical researchers continue to explore new ways to ascertain brain damage, including the possibility of using blood tests to detect concussions.  More on this can be found in this article in The Guardian – “NFL concussion: researchers hope blood tests can better detect head trauma.”

Deceased NFL Players test Positive for CTE

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has been identified in 96% of the deceased NFL players that have been examined by researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University. Signs of CTE can be identified in living persons using brain scans, but as yet the disease can only be positively identified posthumously. Researchers believe that CTE comes from repetitive trauma to the head.  The recent data from the research might be skewed since the study uses brains that have been donated for testing, and many of the individuals who have made provisions for posthumous testing have done so because they suspected CTE. However, in an interview with Frontline, Dr. Ann McKee, Chief of Neuropathology with the VA Boston Healthcare System said the latest numbers were  “remarkably consistent” with past research suggesting a link between football and CTE.

The bottom line is this:  CTE is real and it is seen at high rate in the brain tissue of athletes who were subjected to repeated head trauma. And in a cruel twist, the NFL Concussion Settlement will provide no awards for players who die from CTE after the settlement date.

Will Smith’s film Concussion puts CTE on the radar

Sony Pictures released the trailer for Will Smith’s new film, “Concussion” on Monday, just days before the 2015 football season begins.  “Concussion” stars Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian born neuropathologist credited with discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of former NFL players. Among its shortcomings, the NFL concussion settlement currently being appealed does not provide any benefits for former NFL players who die from CTE in the future. Appeals in the NFL concussion settlement are scheduled to be heard this fall, just before “Concussion” opens in theaters on Christmas Day. The science behind the plot of “Concussion” is well explained in the amicus brief filed by the Brain Injury Association of America in the NFL concussion litigation.

NFL Concussion Settlement Falls Short

The NFL concussion settlement approved in April by U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody has been appealed and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to hear these appeals sometime this fall. No payments will be made under the settlement until all appeals have been exhausted. The advocacy group, the Brain Injury Association of America filed an amicus brief supporting a reversal of the settlement asserting that the settlement “neither recognizes nor compensates the majority of players suffering long-term consequences of brain trauma, but merely rewards certain, small, discrete groups.”