The New York Times today reported on the new brain injury poster being posted in every NFL locker room to inform players and their teams about the long term risks of mild traumatic brain injuries. Among other things, the poster alerts NFL players to the long-term effects of concussions, discussing that traumatic brain injuries cause memory loss, depression, and “early onset of dementia.” Those close to the issue described the NFLs recognition of the problem as both staggering and overdue.
The poster warns players that concussions “can change your life and your family’s life forever,” a reference to former player’s wive’s who have testified before Congress.
What some might find odd, is the same thing we see in many of our brain injury litigation cases. While the NFL is admitting that mild traumatic brain injuries can cause permanent problems, they are at the same time denying it in ongoing litigation with former NFL players. The Times story notes “On April 30, an outside lawyer for the league, Lawrence L. Lamade, wrote a memo to the lead lawyer for the league’s and union’s joint disability plan, Douglas Ell, discrediting connections between football brain injuries and cognitive decline. The letter, obtained by The New York Times, explained, ‘We can point to the current state of uncertainty in scientific and medical understanding’ on the subject to deny players’ claims that their neurological impairments are related to football.”
I am a brain injury trial lawyer. This sounds incredibly familiar to the denial of reality that insurance doctors will try to sell a jury during a brain injury trial. They will say “sure brain injuries can cause permanent damage, but this person doesn’t have a brain injury – they are just trying to get money for nothing.” Don’t believe it. The science is clear. Brain injuries permanently change lives. And, even the NFL admits it, and warns of it, while they continue to deny it in litigation.