Top 10 things to know about the NFL concussion settlement

After more than three years of litigation, the National Football League (NFL) and thousands of former players recently reached a compensation agreement for those suffering from neurological conditions related to on-field concussions, including dementia, Parkinson’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Here are the top 10 things to know about the settlement:

It all started with one doctor

In September 2002, a Pittsburgh-area pathologist, Bennet Omalu, began autopsying the body of a 50-year-old homeless man. The assignment, however, turned out to be anything but routine. As Omalu eventually discovered, the deceased was former NFL star Mike Webster, whose mental health declined rapidly in the years following his football career. Omalu’s eventual study of Webster’s brain led him to publish new research theorizing that a new condition caused by repeated on-field brain injuries, CTE, was the cause.1

More former players quickly followed

Omalu followed up his research on Webster by examining the brain of Terry Long, another former NFL player who faced numerous unexplained mental health challenges. Similar to Webster, Long’s brain was visibly damaged and exhibited the same protein build-up that Omalu linked to repeated head trauma on the gridiron for both men, as well as former players Justin Strzelczyk and Andre Waters.2

Many more players may be affected

According to a study of 1,100 ex-NFL players in 2000, more than 60 percent suffered at least one concussion during their playing days, 51 percent were knocked unconscious on multiple occasions, 31 percent had memory issues, and more than one-quarter reported that they were unable to dress or feed themselves.3

Even mild on-field head trauma considered serious

A 2012 study by the University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System and Sports Legacy Institute studied the brains of 85 athletes, as well as combat veterans and civilians, who suffered mild traumatic brain injuries during their lifetimes. In their study, the researchers concluded that “there may be severe and devastating long-term consequences of repetitive brain trauma that has traditionally been considered only mild.”4

The NFL took a long time to acknowledge the problem

The league first linked concussions with long-term health issues in 2009, saying publicly that “it’s quite obvious from the medical research that’s been done that concussions can lead to long-term problems.”5 Seven years later, an NFL official first acknowledged the relationship between CTE and football after questioning from a member of Congress.6

Settlement reached

In April 2015, a federal judge approved a settlement that provides up to $5 million to former NFL players with playing-related neurological conditions.7 The $900 million agreement would allow claims for up to 65 years and “include payment of monetary awards to retirees diagnosed with certain neurological conditions, funding for a program to monitor, diagnose and counsel ex-players and payment of fees to the retired players’ attorneys.”8

Supreme Court petitioned

In September 2016, a group of former NFL players challenged the legality of the nearly $1 billion class action settlement, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to look into whether the deal is fair because it doesn’t provide adequate compensation to future players suffering from CTE.9

Proven treatment available for former NFL players

At Crosby’s Sports Treatment Center, athletes take multiple diagnostic tests, panel work-ups, brain scans and clinical assessments with our team of doctors. Using advanced imaging technology, our specialists assess and accurately diagnose each athlete for concussion or other brain-related damage or injury.

Inpatient and outpatient options

Our residential treatment program lasts from 30 days to one year and provides access to Crosby’s Neuroscience Institute Brain Lab in addition to group sessions and wellness programs. The outpatient programs allow athletes to receive treatment without disrupting their current family, vocational and social commitments. The program combines education and emotional processing to address the thoughts and feelings that drive behaviors.

Individualized treatment programs

Crosby’s Sports Treatment Center’s programs provide the following services:
• An experienced team of doctors, therapists, specialists and advisors
• Brain mapping (qEEG) to diagnose functional abnormalities
• Advanced brain scans for accurate diagnosis
• Integrated Eye Movement Desensitization and Processing (EMDR) therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and computer lab access for brain adjustments
• Healthy holistic recovery plans
• Brain imaging (SPECT) to diagnose physical damage to the brain from injury
• Neurofeedback and biofeedback to measure therapy’s effectiveness
• 24/7 player coordinators

 

 

[1] “Bennet Omalu, Concussions, and the NFL: How One Doctor Changed Football Forever,” GQ, Sept. 14, 2009
[2] Ibid.
[3] American Academy of Neurology, 2000
[4] “The spectrum of disease in chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” Brain: A Journal of Neurology, Dec. 2, 2012
[5] “NFL acknowledges long-term concussion effects,” The New York Times, Dec. 20. 2009
[6] “NFL acknowledges, for first time, link between football, brain disease,” ESPN, March 15, 2016
[7] “Judge Approves Deal in N.F.L. Concussion Suit,” The New York Times, April 22, 2015
[8] “Judge approves settlement — at least $900M — to NFL concussion lawsuits,” USA Today, April 22, 2015
[9] “Supreme Court again asked to block $1B NFL concussion settlement,” Associated Press, Sept. 28, 2016

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