Many players have sustained concussions while playing for the National Football League (NFL) (Casson & Viano, 2010). This has resulted in much controversy, debate, and lawsuits against the League. As a result NFL players, and their families have been engaged in disagreements based on allegations that management within the NFL knowingly put their health at risk without much concern for their lives.
Reports over the years have indicated that playing in the NFL has contributed to the health deterioration of many players. Consequently some retired early, and others who did not were observed to have signs of physical deterioration. For these reasons, players requested compensation for suffering from the NFL. Immediate family members of Junior Seau (former NFL player for Sand Diego Chargers who committed suicide), and othr players both past, and present believe that the League is responsible for educating the players on the health risks associated with the sport. Former players suffered from dementia, early onset of Alzheimer’s, other forms of mental or physical suffering as well as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Players who have since been diagnosed with CTE have trouble concentration, which has hindered their ability to work trouble, and in some cases players have experienced drastic and debilitating life-events, which caused them to take their lives (Lipsky, 2008).
Ultimately, research as well testimonies from the lived experiences of players prove that concussions is a health dilemma for NFL players, and the League’s management is somewhat responsible for health risks associated with playing professional football (Reid, 2014).
Concussion is a movie about a forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Will Smith), who while performing an autopsy NFL football player Mike Webster (who died at age 50 after a heart attack (played by David Morse), discovered neurological deterioration that is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in Webster’s brain (“Bennet Omalu, doctor who raised alarm bells about NFL head injuries, on racism in U.S. science, 2015”). Dr. Omalu then named the disorder chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). After he concluded the autopsy on Webster, he made his findings public by writing an article in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Neurosurgery, titled “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player.
What is the pathophysiology of CTE ?
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is medical term used to explain what happens to the brain when it suffers a direct injury.
Treatment for CTE
There is no standard treatment for CTE, it is a preventative injury so wearing helmets, and protective gear, along with avoiding further concussions would be forms of prevention that would be suggested (“Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, n.d.”).
Why did Dr. Bennett Omalu continue the autopsy of former Pittsburgh Steelers Center Mike Webster after he was told to close the case?
Dr. Omalu was fascinated by what he saw in Webster’s brain as the deterioration of his brain was that of “boxers, very old people with Alzheimer’s disease , or that of someone who suffered from a severe head wound. He added that Webster’s brain was like “sludge, clogging up the works, killing cells in regions responsible for mood, emotions, and executive functioning. This was why Mike Webster was crazy” (Drenon, 2013). Omalu could not keep this information to himself, and so he showed the slides to his supervisor Wecht as well as other renewed scientists at the University of Pittsburgh.
Is this decision an important lesson for other providers?
It is an exceptional lesson that you should not keep valuable information to yourself because of fear Breslow, 2013). Omalu means, “if you know, come forth and speak”(Toppol, 2015). He believed that the meaning of his name, and his current work are signs of fate. Omalu’s discovery made Mike Webster’s autopsy one of the most significant moments in sports.
What were the consequences of Dr. Omalu’s decision(Physical, emotional, financial?
Immediately three NFL scientists asked Omalu to retract the article because his findings were inaccurate, and misleading. His major reason for ignoring the opposition was his question, “How can doctors who are not neuropathologists interpret neuropathological findings better than neuropathologists? (“Dr. Bennet Omalu, n.d.”). He received numerous racist emails, many said that he was not credible, he lost his job, and used all his money to fund CTE research. He suffered emotionally because of public chastisement, but mostly because of the pain the families of the deceased players were feeling ”(“Bennet Omalu, doctor who raised alarm bells about NFL head injuries, on racism in U.S. science, 2015”).
How do you think Dr. Omalu’s Christian faith impacted the decisions he made pursuing the diagnosis of CTE?
Dr. Omalu is Catholic, and his faith allowed him to stand firm, faced criticism, and remain sober minded as he continued on his quest to educate the public on CTE, and concussions.. He was not afraid to speak the truth as both faith, and science are about truth. Concussion’ doctor’s Catholic faith gave him courage to tackle the NFL, n.d.’).
Should contact sports such as contact sports be banned?
No, however, there needs to be more public awareness regarding the health risks involved. Coaches, and managers should be held accountable if they are not educating players.
What teaching will you provide to the parents of young children requesting sports physicals for activities such as American football?
The truth about the joys of the sport such as its rich heritage to the American culture, but also the potential risks due to excessive exposure to concussion. I will ensure they know that wearing proper gear is mandatory, and also make them aware of the tell-tale signs of possible neurological problems.
- Bennet Omalu, doctor who raised alarm bells about NFL head injuries, on racism in
U.S. science (2015). Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/12/29/bennet-omalu-doctor-who-raised-alarm-bells-about-nfl-head-injuries-on-racism-in-u-s-science/
- Breslow, J.M. (2013).The Autopsy That Changed Football. Retrieved
- ‘Concussion’ doctor’s Catholic faith gave him courage to tackle the NFL. Retrieved from
- Diseases and Conditions: Chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Retrieved from
- Dr. Bennet Omalu. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sports/league-of-
- Drennon, T. (2013).Mike Webster autopsy ‘one of the most significant moments in the
history of sports’. Retrieved from http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/10/8/4814434/concussion-suit-mike-webster-thing
- Toppol, E.J. (2015). Concussion” Movie’s Dr Omalu Tackles NFL on CTE.