Tag: NCAA

Concussion Injury Lawyer

Former University of Alabama Defensive End Describes Living With The Long-Term Effects of Concussions

It’s been a long time since Les Williams stepped foot on a football field, but the effects of his time playing for the University of Alabama are impossible to forget. Williams suffers from a variety of complications caused by repeated impacts to the head sustained during play, but he’s far from alone. Thousands of former collegiate football players are struggling with the long-term effects of concussions.

Daily Struggles

Williams played for the University of Alabama as a defensive end in the early 2000s. Since his time playing football, he has struggled to hold a job because of his symptoms. He suffers from constant headaches, memory loss, depression, and mood swings. Williams was never warned or prepared for the serious neurological conditions he and many other former football players are now experiencing.

Williams can remember several hits he believes caused significant brain damage. One was in 2002 when he slammed into a punter during a game against Southern Mississippi University. His head “rang” as he jogged over the bench, and he recalled thinking something wasn’t right. In another instance, he suffered a head-to-head collision during practice that caused him to lose vision in his left eye for about 30 seconds and caused the entire left side of his body to go numb.

Hundreds of former players, including Williams, want answers from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The NCAA is charged with protecting student athletes and their wellbeing, but despite this responsibility, the NCAA did not discuss the long-term consequences of concussions with players or institute protocols that could have lessened the damage.

Permanent Damage

Unfortunately for Williams and others, concussive and sub-concussive hits to the head and brain do more damage than the initial impact. When brain cells die, they release a toxic protein that actually causes more brain cell death in surrounding cells. There is no way to stop the release of this protein or reverse its effects. This can cause many different degenerative neurological conditions, such as ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s, among others.

Get Help From An Experienced Concussion Injury Lawyer

At Raizner Slania LLP, our experienced concussion injury lawyers are representing former NCAA football players in lawsuits to obtain compensation. Call us today for a free consultation to see how we can help.

Tackle Ban

NFL Players Support Tackle Ban In Youth Football

Evidence connecting repeated concussive and sub-concussive hits to the head and long-term neurological damage has existed for decades. Despite this, contact sports like football flourished. But now professional football players from the National Football League (NFL) are supporting legislation that would ban tackling in youth football to protect young children from repeated impacts to the head.

NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre is backing legislation in Illinois that bans tackle football for all children less than 12 years of age. Children who played football under this age would play flag football instead of tackle football. Mr. Favre knows better than nearly anyone how concussive impacts sustained during play can damage the brain. While playing professional football, Mr. Favre set a new record for most consecutive games played, totaling 297. Mr. Favre now suffers from the long-term effects of repeated head trauma.

The Illinois Bill Mr. Favre is supporting is called the Dave Deurson Act, and it is currently under consideration in the state’s legislature. Mr. Favre hopes other states will adopt similar legislation and that one day there will be a nationwide ban. A ban on tackle football for kids couldn’t come soon enough.

According to a study conducted by the VA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University School of Medicine, of 211 football players posthumously diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), those who started tackle football at age 11 or younger began experiencing symptoms of CTE in their mid-twenties.

Mr. Favre isn’t the only NFL player who believes tackling should be banned for children. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo also agrees tackle football is not appropriate for young children. When Mr. Romo holds football camps for kids, he doesn’t allow tackle football for the youngest participants.

Although change can’t come soon enough, it will be too late for thousands of players at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. The type of brain damage sustained while playing football can’t be reversed. For many football players, the only justice they will receive is through filing a lawsuit. Organizations like the NFL and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) had a responsibility to players to warn them of the health risks associated with repeated head impacts, but instead kept these risks quiet and continued to earn millions in profits from these players.

NCAA Concussion Injury Lawyers

The NCAA settled the first NCAA concussion lawsuit that went to trial after just three days in court. The NCAA cannot deny the thousands of players that deserve justice for the injuries that they now suffer from as a result of their college football play. If you or someone you love played NCAA football, contact the NCAA concussion injury lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP today. We can help you understand your legal options and pursue compensation on your behalf.

First NCAA Concussion Lawsuit

First NCAA Concussion Lawsuit Goes To Trial

For decades, football has been one of America’s most watched sports. Every year, thousands of student athletes help universities across the country earn millions of dollars in revenue from college football games. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and its member schools continue to make profits off of student athletes, too often with limited regard for the long term impact of concussion injuries. Studies showing the long-term effects of concussions sustained while playing football have existed for decades. Despite this, the NCAA did not adopt appropriate protocols that would have reduced the brain damage caused during gameplay.

For one family, justice may be soon at hand as the first NCAA concussion lawsuit begins on Monday, June 11, 2018 in a Dallas courtroom.

Greg Ploetz played football at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) in 1968, 1969, and 1971. Unfortunately, the concussions Mr. Ploetz sustained while playing for UT caused him to suffer from a variety of neurological conditions later in his life. Mr. Ploetz’s wife described the numerous health problems he suffered throughout his life, saying he “became apathetic, disinhibited, exhibited compulsive behaviors, and his personal hygiene began to decline. He experienced paranoia and confusion, was psychiatrically hospitalized, and was in and out of respite homes due to aggressive behaviors.”

Mr. Ploetz passed away in 2015, and neurologists at Boston University posthumously diagnosed him with Stage IV Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE. Stage IV is the most advanced and severe version of the disease. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease found in the brain that is caused by repeated head trauma. When the brain experiences repeated trauma, it builds up a type of protein called Tau (T-proteins) that slowly kills brain cells over time. T-proteins will continue to kill brain cells even once the repeated trauma has discontinued, and symptoms of CTE often occur months or years after the trauma has ended. Unfortunately, Mr. Ploetz isn’t the only football player to suffer from CTE. Researchers from Boston University found that 91 percent of college football players suffered from CTE.

The NCAA Had A Responsibility To Protect Student Athletes

As the governing body of collegiate sports, the NCAA had a responsibility to look after the health and wellbeing of its athletes. Tragically, the NCAA put profits before its players by failing to educate students on the long-term side effects of concussions and failing to adopt protocols and provide medical treatment that could have lessened brain damage and other side effects.

NCAA Football Players Deserve Justice

Former NCAA football players all around the country are suffering from devastating and degenerative conditions from concussions sustained during play. NCAA football players deserve justice for the NCAA’s gross failure to protect them. If you or someone you love played collegiate football and suffered adverse health conditions as a result, contact Raizner Slania LLP immediately. We are representing NCAA football players and helping them get compensation for their injuries. Call us today for a free consultation to learn about your legal options.

cte football

91% of Former NCAA Football Players Diagnosed With CTE

How CTE, Football, and the NCAA Interrelate

 

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE is a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated impacts to the head. Although the incidence and prevalence of CTE is unknown, it has been diagnosed in former amateur and professional contact sport athletes. Given the millions of contact sport athletes exposed to repetitive head impacts each year, CTE has become a major public health concern.

For decades, research has shown that football players are particularly vulnerable to developing CTE, but sports organizations like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Football League (NFL) have been slow to adopt policies and procedures that would protect players from developing the disease. For years, these organizations have gone as far as denying any significant association between football and CTE or other concussion related disorders.

The CTE Study That’s Changing The Rules of the Game

However, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association will make it much harder for the NCAA to avoid accountability to student athletes. Led by researchers from Boston University and the VA Boston Healthcare System, the study was the largest to investigate the link between brain trauma sustained from football and CTE (CTE can only be diagnosed posthumously). Researchers studied the brains of 202 deceased football players, including 111 who were former NFL players.

The results are nothing short of startling. The sample included athletes who played American football at any level. Here are just some of the key findings:

  • 177 of the 202 (87%) deceased former football players were neuropathologically diagnosed with CTE
  • 110 out of the 111 (99%) former NFL players were diagnosed with CTE
    48 out of the 53 college football players (91%) were posthumously diagnosed with CTE
  • 3 out of the 14 deceased high school students (21%) were diagnosed with CTE
  • 7 out of the 8 former Canadian Football League decedents (88%) were diagnosed with CTE

Beyond these shocking statistics, the study demonstrated that even those players who had mild CTE pathology sustained other sequelae. Of the 27 participants who had mild pathology, 96% had exhibited behavioral and/or mood symptoms; 85% had cognitive symptoms and disorders; and 33% had signs of dementia. For those with severe pathology, the numbers are overwhelming: 89% exhibited behavior or mood symptoms; 95% suffered from cognitive symptoms and disorders; and 85% had signs of dementia.

Additionally, the study found the most common cause of death in players with even mild CTE was suicide. This is tragically consistent with our firm’s experience representing the families of CTE victims, and many of these suicides occurred in a manner where the victims purposely avoided destroying brain tissue with the expressed hope that researchers would continue striving for answers, or that their families would understand why the young men took their own lives. For players in more serious stages of CTE, the most common cause of death was from neurodegenerative related complications.

And while the study was confined to former football players, the risks of concussions extend to many other athletes, both men and women. The NCAA measures concussion rates based on concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures. Men’s football has a concussion rate of 6.7, but other sports have similar rates. Perhaps the clearest example is women’s soccer, which represents the second most populous sport behind men’s football, and maintains a concussion rate of 6.3.

Even more troubling, the researchers of this study are working with a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke that ends in December. While they have applied for additional funding, none has yet been received, despite the prevalence and severity of football-related concussions. Despite the NFL’s 2016 promise of $200 million to support independent research on related topics, the study’s authors doubt they will ever see a penny of it.

What Does This Mean For NCAA Athletes?

As the country starts to get back into its most popular college and professional team sport, this study is a stark reminder of how dangerous football can be when governing associations like the NCAA and its member conferences fail to measure up.

Many collegiate athletes are completely unaware of the significant lifelong health risks to which the NCAA has subjected them. Organizations like the NCAA have a responsibility to inform players of all risks associated with the game, but for the NCAA, the responsibility goes even further.

The NCAA was formed to protect the health and wellbeing of student athletes across the country. The organization currently governs over 400,000 students. The NCAA is expected to act en loco parentis, or in the place of parents. Parents send their children to college assuming they will be kept safe, but for years the NCAA failed to adopt concussion management protocols that could help lessen the long-term effects from concussions, like CTE. CTE causes permanent damage to the brain, and once a player develops the disease, there is no way to stop the progression or reverse the damage it causes.

CTE Brain Injury Attorney

Raizner Slania represents thousands of former college athletes and their families and to date has filed over 50 NCAA concussion lawsuits across the country. Our team of experienced trial lawyers works on these cases all day, everyday. While the NCAA looks at concussions as a potential detraction from their member schools’ college football revenue, we see the faces, lives, and pain behind each and every case. You can read more about the cases we have filed and other NCAA concussion litigation news on our blog.

If you or a loved one experienced brain trauma as a result of a head injury sustained while playing college football for an NCAA regulated team, please contact the experienced trial attorneys at Raizner Slania. We can help you understand your legal options and pursue compensation on your behalf. Call us today for a free consultation.

Concussion Awareness

Women’s sports concussion injuries and the NCAA concussion awareness gender gap

The Effect of Title IX on Women’s Sports

It has been 45 years since congress enacted Title IX, and women’s sports have seen tremendous growth in the interim. The primary example is women’s soccer; the total number of NCAA women’s soccer teams has exploded from just 80 teams in 1982 to a staggering 1,034 teams as of 2016. That translate to 27,358 women playing college soccer in 2016, compared with just 1,855 in 1982, and represents a roughly 1500% increase.

While Title IX was huge step forward for women athletes, there is still a major gap in concussion awareness between men’s football and women’s sports. This is most notable with women soccer players, who comprise one of the largest blocks of athletes behind men’s football and suffer concussions at virtually the same rate as football players.

Unintended Consequences of Title IX

While Title IX has provided important opportunities for women athletes, it’s hardly the universal equalizer that it has often been touted to represent, and the growth of women’s sports may have created some unintended consequences.

For example, prior to 1972, 90% of all head coaches for women’s athletics were women; today, that figure has fallen to just 43%. And despite the growth in women participants in NCAA sports, there is far less media attention placed on collegiate women’s sports. Today, women’s athletics receive only 2 to 4% of all sports coverage, despite making up over 40% of all sports participants. The statistics continue this trend even to women’s soccer, one of the fastest growing sports, with more total players than almost all men’s sports.

Some of the gaps associated with women’s sports are being addressed by a wide range of groups, from the Women’s Sports Foundation to the United Nations. What seems not to be addressed, however, is the lasting effects sports concussions can have on women.

For reasons ranging from a lack of media attention to an ever-increasing social stigma around mental health issues, women who have suffered concussions during college athletics have been left in the dark on the topic, and in some cases even encouraged to conceal the lasting physical and mental effects of their injuries.

Women & Men Athletes Suffer Concussion Injuries at the Same Rate

Concussions are equally prevalent in both men’s and women’s sports. Statistics published by the NCAA bear this out. The rate of concussion in college athletics put women’s soccer and ice hockey as two of the top five most frequently concussed sports, with concussion rates on par with men’s football.

After decades of clear, concerted effort by the NCAA to hide the impacts of concussions from student athletes, media attention and concussion injury lawsuits are finally bringing awareness. But most of the buzz has surrounded men’s football.

Per the NCAA’s own published data, football players sustain 6.7 concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures (one athlete’s participation in one competition or practice) and despite the lack of awareness about concussion in women’s sports, NCAA’s own data shows that women’s soccer players suffer 6.3 concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures, a rate nearly identical to their male football counterparts. Women’s ice hockey came in at an even higher rate of 7.5 concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures.

As of 2016, there were 27,358 NCAA women’s soccer players and 2,289 women’s hockey players, compared to 73,660 NCAA football players. So, while there are about 40% as many women’s athletes in these high-concussion rate sports as there are men’s football players, sports such as women’s soccer get disproportionally less focus and attention.

The gap in concussion awareness and attention may come down to two main factors: social stigma and a lack of any particular group focusing on the issue. This gap seems somewhat unique to concussion injuries, as it stands in stark contrast to studies documenting that women tend to report injuries and seek treatment 33-50% more frequently than men.

Regardless of the explanation, one thing is clear: the NCAA’s decades long campaign to hide the lifelong impacts of concussions affects women athletes at virtually the same rate as it does men.

Closing The Concussion Awareness Gap

Raizner Slania represents women athletes who sustained concussion playing NCAA sports. If you or a loved one experienced brain trauma after suffering a head injury while playing for an NCAA regulated team, please contact the attorneys at Raizner Slania.

Our consultations are free and confidential, and we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you owe us nothing unless we help you obtain compensation.

NCAA Concussion Lawsuits

Raizner Slania Files Five NCAA Concussion Lawsuits On Behalf of College Football Players

Raizner Slania recently filed five lawsuits against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and several Division 1 universities and conferences on behalf of former student athletes suffering from the debilitating long-term effects of repeated concussions sustained during play. The cases involve student athletes from Weber State University, the University of Iowa, the United States Military Academy at West Point, the University of Tulsa, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The plaintiff from Weber State University played as a defensive end from 1996 to 1997. Some of the concussions sustained during games were so severe that the plaintiff often could not remember the games or injuries he had suffered. As a result, he now suffers from severe anxiety, depression, fatigue, headaches, neurological disorders, memory loss, mood swings, and other debilitating issues. In addition, his medical team has diagnosed him with major depressive disorder, major neurocognitive disorder, and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE.
In the case from the former University of Iowa football player, the plaintiff played for the university from 1986 through 1988 as a wide receiver. The plaintiff suffered from a number of concussions during his time playing for the university, and in one instance, he was hit so hard he was knocked unconscious. However, he was quickly returned to the same game without receiving the appropriate medical treatment. He now suffers from serious cognitive issues, including impaired memory, attention, processing speed, and other debilitating issues. Additionally, he was recently diagnosed with neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury, depressive disorder due to traumatic brain injury, and his medical team believes he most probably suffers from CTE.

The plaintiff from West Point played for the university as a running back from 1995 to 1998. The plaintiff recalls suffering a number of concussive and sub-concussive hits while playing football for West Point, including suffering from at least 17 concussions during games. The hits he sustained were so severe that he often saw stars and experienced blurry vision and would even become disoriented after. On multiple occasions, he was hit so hard that he had lost consciousness. Additionally, these hits caused him to experience headaches during practices and games that would last long after play. One concussion even caused the plaintiff to experience post-traumatic amnesia. The plaintiff now suffer from severe headaches, memory loss, anxiety, depression, seizures, and other issues. He was diagnosed with severe postconcussive syndrome with neurological deficit and profound left 6th nerve palsy. Ultimately, he was forced to leave school due to concussion injuries he sustained playing football.

The plaintiff who played for the University of Tulsa was a safety, linebacker and played on special teams from 2006 to 2009. He suffered many concussive hits during his time and some of the hits were so severe, that he often experienced headaches during practices and games that would last long after play. In 2008, the plaintiff was hit so hard during a game that he lost consciousness. Given the severity of the impact and his state of unconsciousness, he had to be removed from the game. He was later evaluated by a physician and told that he had, in addition to this significant concussive event, previously suffered many concussive and sub-concussive hits that went undiagnosed and untreated. As a result, the plaintiff was instructed to stop playing football. The plaintiff now suffers from headaches, memory loss, mood swings, and has severe cognitive deficits as a consequence of his concussions.

In the case of the former University of Louisiana at Lafayette student-athlete, the plaintiff played for the university as a tight-end from 1995-1998. The plaintiff recalls suffering from numerous concussions during practices and games. As a result of his time playing college football, the plaintiff suffers from headaches, memory loss, trouble sleeping and mood swings. He has also been diagnosed with brain legions, likely caused by his years playing football. His doctors have concluded that he likely suffers from CTE.

For decades, the NCAA has known about the long-term dangers of concussions and concussion-related injuries. Despite this, the NCAA failed to implement reasonable concussion safety protocols and actively concealed the dangers of concussions from student-athletes.

Repeated impacts to the head greatly increase an athlete’s risk of developing long-term brain injuries like anxiety, memory loss, dementia, depression, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), and severe cognitive and neurological deficits, among others.

Unfortunately for student athletes, many of the long-term side effects of concussions do not begin to manifest for years after they have played their last game. Additionally, most concussion-related brain damage is permanent and degenerative, meaning student athletes can do nothing to reverse or stop its progression.

The NCAA currently governs over 400,000 student athletes around the country playing 23 different sports. The institution has a duty to protect student athletes from dangers both on and off the field. Unfortunately, the NCAA’s inaction and concealment of the dangers of concussions created an epidemic that has harmed many college athletes. Despite gaining financially from its football players, the NCAA did little to protect them from the long-term consequences of concussions.

Raizner Slania Can Help Former College Athletes Who Suffered Concussions

Many former college football players were told to “shake it off” after receiving concussions, but this attitude deprived players of the medical treatment necessary to mitigate, monitor, and manage the long-term side effects of concussions.

The experienced trial attorneys at Raizner Slania can help former college football players and other athletes suffering from the long-term effects of concussions and sub-concussive hits sustained during practices and games. We offer free consultations to help you understand your legal options and we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t owe us anything unless we help you recover compensation. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.