Concussion and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE): Most Damaging Football Injuries

Concussion and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE): Most Damaging Football Injuries

During the 1993 NFC Championship Game, Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman suffered a serious (knee) blow to the head which landed him in a hospital that same evening. The year after, another National Football League player, Chicago Bears fullback Merrill Hodge, announced his retirement from football following a blow to the head that, according to reports, caused him to recognize his close family members, including his wife.

In 2013, around 4,500 former NFL players listed as plaintiffs in lawsuits against the NFL for concussion-related injuries. When asked to comment about this lawsuit filed by NFL players against the League, Super Bowl winning quarterback and TV personality Jim McMahon said that he knew his shoulders, knees, and back, his whole body actually, would be beat up, however, nobody ever mentioned to him, or to any player, about injuries to the head. Even football legend, Mike Ditka, whose whole life was football, said that, had he a son, he wouldn’t encourage him to play football because the risk is simply much worse than the reward.

With very strong and heavy players running into each other at full speed, NFL players are most likely to sustain injuries. Injuries sustained, which range from minor, but bothersome, to severe and debilitating, include:

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL), and Torn meniscus, all of which are knee injuries;

  • Ankle sprains and strains
  • Muscle contusions;
  • Torn hamstrings;
  • Shoulder tendinitis; and,
  • Shoulder separation or dislocation.

Musculoskeletal injuries (or MSDs, which include injuries to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, and blood vessels) are the types of injuries most commonly sustained by professional and college football players. More serious than these, however, are injuries that affect the brain, namely Concussion and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

Concussion is a change in a player’s mental state due to a violent shock as from a heavy blow to the head. Its most common effect is temporary unconsciousness, though in others, it rather causes headache, dizziness, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, loss of balance, nausea, numbness/tingling, and blurry vision.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), on the other hand, is a progressive brain disease that is caused by repetitive brain trauma. This brain illness usually leads to memory loss, dementia and depression. Since CTE diagnosis requires evidence of degeneration of brain tissue and deposits of tau and other proteins in the brain, it can only be determined upon inspection (of the brain) after death (autopsy).

According to the Mokaram Law Firm, responsible parties often take negligent action in order to further the entertainment value of football games. Players frequently feel forced to perform despite incurring severe head injuries in order to retain their professional careers and fans. This is incredibly dangerous for players, as repeated concussions have serious long-term effects on a person’s wellbeing.

In 2014, the NFL settled a lawsuit filed by former NFL players, who attributed their neurological problems to their time in the league. Those filing NFL concussion lawsuits, may be able to avail of the settlement fund the NFL has approved and reserved for injured players. However, applying for compensation may lead to better results if done through and with the help of a seasoned lawyer, who may be able to help an injured player receive the maximum compensation possible, which is $5 million.