Lawyers appealing the NFL’s $1 billion plan to address concussion-linked injuries in former players asked a court Thursday to reject the settlement because it excludes what the signature brain disease of football is—CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. These critics insist that any settlement should include future payments for CTE sufferers because the brain decay can be found in dozens of formers players after their deaths.
Steven F. Molo argued before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that, “CTE was the sound piece of the original (legal) complaint. It is a fundamental issues in the case. It is mentioned 14 times.”
The proposed settlement would cover more than 20,000 NFL retirees for the next 65 years. The league estimates that 6,000 former players, or nearly three in 10, could develop Alzheimer’s disease or moderate dementia. They would receive an average of $190,000, although the awards could reach several million dollars in the most serious cases, which include men with Parkinson’s disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The science behind CTE is in its beginning stages as the only possible way to diagnose the disease is in death. The settlement grants up to $4 million for prior deaths involving CTE, but set an April 2015 cutoff date to avoid incentivizing suicides in the future. The total $1 billion payout will also set aside money for research, education and baseline testing.
And while it may be tough to prove in court, the objectors complain that it only compensates a few neurological conditions and not the depression and mood disorders they link to concussions and CTE .
What is CTE?
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head. This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgement, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia or an array of diseases aforementioned .
A recent article published on pbs.org revealed that a total of 87 out of 91 former NFL players have tested positive for the brain disease at the center of the debate over concussions in football, according to new figures from the largest brain bank focuses on the study of traumatic head injury.
Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University have now identified CTE in 96% of NFL players that they’ve examined and in 79% of all football players. In total the lab had found CTE in the brain tissue in 131 out of 165 individuals who, before their deaths, played football either professionally, semi-professionally, in college or in high school.
These figures come with several important caveats, as testing for the disease can be an imperfect process. Brain scans have been used to identify signs of CTE in living players, but the disease can only be definitively identified posthumously. As such, many of the players who have donated their brains for testing suspected that they had the disease while still alive, leaving researchers with a skewed population to work with.
Even with those forewarnings, the latest numbers are “remarkably consistent” with past research from the center suggesting a link between football and long-term brain disease, said Dr. Ann McKee, the facility’s director and chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System. “People think that we’re blowing this out of proportion, that this is a very rare disease and that we’re sensationalizing it,” said McKee, who runs the lab as part of a collaboration between the VA and BU. “My response is that where I sit, this is a very real disease. We have had no problem identifying it in hundreds of players.”
Living with CTE or TBI
These hundreds of players have endured a brain injury that can change their lives forever and may lead to emotional issues. A brain injury can change the way people feel or express emotions. An individual with TBI can have several types of emotional problems.
Mood swings and emotional liability are often caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls emotions and behavior. Often there is no specific event that triggers a sudden emotional response. This may be confusing for family members who may think they accidently did something that upset the injured person. Additionally, in some cases the brain injury can cause sudden episodes of crying or laughing. These emotional expressions or outbursts may not have any relationship to the way the persons feels (in other words, they may cry without feeling sad or laugh without feeling happy). In some cases the emotional response may not match the situation (such as laughing at a sad story). Usually the person cannot control these expressions of emotion.
Anxiety, depression and an assortment of other emotional disorders have been linked to TBIs and concussions. While the physical symptoms that one had when they suffer from a TBI can be life changing, the side effects that are associated with emotions can affect your mood, your job, your love life and even your familial relationships. This only causes added stress to further perpetuate one’s emotions .
Dolman Law Group
If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered a sports injury or related TBI injury due to someone’s negligence, we invite you to contact Dolman Law Group at (727) 853-6275 for a consultation with a member of our team. We are committed to representing individuals who have suffered personal injury due to the negligence of others.
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