It is far too early to predict how any of the legal matters related to traumatic brain injuries and various football organizations might pan out. Both the professional National Football League (NFL) as well as the NCAA college-level programs are facing various lawsuits. Accusations in those cases usually stem from claims that administrators downplayed risks, hid information, or otherwise did not do enough to protect players from known risks. Many high-profile players who suffered serious brain injury (or committed suicide with alleged connections to injury) have spurred national discussion on these issues.
While it is hard to find any silver lining in the injuries that have affected tens of thousands in big and small ways, it is clear that the national conversation is turning toward ways to address the problem. It is becoming impossible for league officials–from youth programs to professional organizations–to ignore the warning signs or fail to act to protect athletes from harm.
One step that is taking place at the higher levels is the funding of various large-scale project to improve players health and safety. For example, Forbes reported recently on new initiative launched by a joint effort from the NFL and General Electrics (GE). Known as the “Head Health Initiative” the project is a $60 million effort which will last at least four years with the goal of developing new imaging technologies. The new tools will hopefully “aid in the prevention, detection and management of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussions.”
In a press conference announcing the partnership and project, the NFL Commissioner explained how there is still a long way to go before we are where we need to be in terms of identifying all head injuries in an efficient and timely manner. Hopefully this commitment and research endeavor will speed up the process.
The project will be split into two. The first part will focus on better understanding TBI generally and analyzing long-term harm, including better diagnosis tools. The second phase will be focused on “innovation,” tackling the equipment and protection issues (structures and materials) which might prevent harm
While the NFL’s participation in the initiative is obviously focused on improving its image and helping to improve the safety of players in the future, the implications of the findings could extend well beyond the sport of football. Many different research project in recent months and years have noted how youth of all ages often experience serious head injuries that go undetected and untreated. This opens them up for follow-up injuries and more serious long-term harm. The better imaging and other technology available to detect even subtle brain trauma damage may go a long way toward helping minimize harm.
Hopefully this trend will continue and all preventable head injuries can be eliminated. Until that time, it is important to keep the pressure on those in a position to make changes. If you or someone you know suffers a TBI as a result of negligence (either in football, another sport, or something else entirely), please contact our injury lawyers to see how we can help.
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