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NFL Hit with More Brain Injury Lawsuits

The National Football League and helmet manufacturer Riddell have been named in two more brain injury lawsuits, alleging that players were not adequately warned about the risk of head trauma associated with the game.

Former players Bobby Douglass and John Cornell claim to have developed brain damage directly resulting from their time with the NFL. Douglass was a quarterback with the Chicago Bears and Cornell played for Northwestern University as part of their NFL training camps.

Both men’s lawsuits allege that during their time with the NFL they were put at an increased risk for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition that can arise from multiple concussions. A degenerative brain condition, CTE is linked to depression, suicidal thoughts or actions, apathy, loss of memory, and motor skill disturbances.

Over 4,500 NFL players have received settlements from the league totaling approximately $765 million. The NFL has not admitted wrongdoing in any of the cases despite the fact that more brain injury victims continue to come forward.

The defendants’ allegations address the need for increased advocacy and awareness of head trauma and brain injury in football and other contact sports. Whether recreational or professional, players at all levels of the game are at serious risk of irreversible trauma from the head injuries they sustain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that approximately 1.7 million cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) occur every year, either in isolation or in addition to other injuries.

CTE is just one condition caused by brain injury. One such under-diagnosed condition is post-traumatic hypopituitarism (PTHP), which alters hormone secretion following an incident of TBI. According to a report published by the European Journal of Endocrinology, PTHP is observed in approximately 40% of patients that have a history of TBI.

On December 11, 2013, an 84-page lawsuit was filed against the NFL alleging that 70-year-old former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Craig Morton and other players suffered long term effects from head injuries, citing a lack of protection by the NFL. Morton played 18 seasons with the Cowboys, New York Giants and Denver Broncos from 1965 to 1982.

The suit alleges that the league had ample access to medical studies on the impact of concussive and sub-concussive hits on the wellbeing of its players. The defendants’ attorneys claim that the research the league produced was, “industry-funded, biased and falsified.”

The NFL did not provide any comment on the Morton lawsuit at the time the suit was filed.

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