Why doesn’t football learn?


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I think we would all admit that the Super Bowl was a great game with two well matched teams and a cliffhanger ending. But, Julian Edelman, who may have had a concussion stayed in the game. Sure, Edelman was a key player to the Patriot’s victory, but at what expense if he had a concussion. Just recently the Boston Globe published a story about Mosi Tatupu, a great player from the 1980’s who manifested the signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) before the end of his playing career. In the Boston Globe article his wife showed his helmet with a bent and battered face shield. Is this a souvenir of his career or a tragic marker of the number of concussions he sustained. Dr. Ann McKee, director of the CTE center at the VA Boston Healthcare System confirmed that Tatupu had the signs of CTE.

A story on Meet-the-Press also addresses the long-term effects of multiple concussions sustained by a player over the course of their career. There is definitely a gap in learning. We know what causes CTE and how it effects a person’s cognition, behavior and personality producing devastating changes. We have improved detection of concussions. Yet, in Sunday’s Big Game, a player who may be been concussed returned to play.

We know winning is important for teams and for their fans and the NFL. But more important than winning the game is preserving brain health for players. Their careers are relatively short when compared to a life of living with a brain injury and ultimately, CTE. We’re not advocating for an end to football, just the application of the knowledge we have to make the game safer.

Click here to read the Julian Edelman storythe Boston Globe story on Mosi Tatupu and the Meet-the-Press piece.

About Rolf Gainer Ph.D.

Dr. Rolf Gainer is the founder of the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma as well as the Neurological Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario, in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Gainer is a psychologist with more than twenty-five years of experience in the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. Dr. Gainer has designed and operated innovative rehabilitation programs in the United States and Canada for individuals who have been regarded as difficult to serve. He is currently involved in conducting two outcome studies related to the long-term issues faced by individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. He has presented papers throughout the United States and Canada in many professional conferences and educational forums.

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