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Elizabeth Quinn

NFL May Require Neurologists to Rule on Head Injuries

By November 25, 2009

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The National Football League has been under increasing pressure to take head injuries seriously and, according to The New York Times, has confirmed that it is collaborating with the players union to identify independent neurologists to work with team medical staffs to treat players with brain injuries.

The article also stated that the latest indication that the NFL will make changes in its approach to head injuries is the resignation of Dr. Ira Casson and Dr. David Viano, the co-chairs of the league's committee on brain injuries.

In an on-going effort to have the NFL take head injuries more seriously, former NFL players, executives and lawmakers appeared before the House Judiciary Committee last month to discuss the long-term effects of head injuries on current and former NFL players and to determine if the NFL is doing enough to protect the players.

Even Mild Head Injuries Are Serious

Research shows that even mild concussions can have serious long-term effects, but one of the most serious complications of a head injury, an epidural hematoma, can occur with little warning and, if not treated promptly, can result in death.


Head Injury Warning Signs

All experts agree that wear safely equipment, such as a helmet and mouth guard, can reduce the risk of serious head injuries. If you suffer any head injury, stop playing and sit out the rest of the game. Even if you think it's a mild bump on the head, you may have minor damage that can be repaired. If you return to play, you risk making that mild injury a permanent one.


Head Injury Research

The latest research on the effects of head injuries continues to support the fact that concussions, and even mild head injuries, can cause lasting damage to the brain


In September, 2009, the National Football League Player Care Foundation released the results of their Study of Retired NFL Players which revealed that the rate of dementia and cognitive disorders among retired NFL players was five times higher than among the general population.


In 2007, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine reported finding structural changes in the brains of head injury patients that correlate to cognitive deficits in thinking, memory and attention. They found that mild head injuries caused damage only to the outer surface of the nerve (the myelin sheath of an axon), which may be able to be repaired if allowed to heal. More severe head injuries tended to cause damage to the axon itself, which may not be as easily repaired. Read the study abstract, published in the journal Brain or the Read the study press release from the University of Illinois at Chicago


Learn about myelin and nerve structure

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