This is a story about life’s hard knocks. Literally.
It’s the story of former NFL Browns running back Jerome Harrison and how his occasional seizures, thought to be a result of concussions from the game, saved his life.
The 28-year-old running back was traded from the Detroit Lions to the Philadelphia Eagles, but the trade was voided a day later when he failed his physical with his new team. The Eagles’ doctors discovered he had a brain tumor.
The good news was the tumor was discovered, it was benign or non cancerous, and it was removed.
The bad news is that Harrison suffered a stroke the next day, following an unpredicted long and difficult brain surgery.
He has joined the ranks of epileptics with controlled seizures.
His football days are done. And life as he knew it, will never be the same.
His case, unfortunately, is not unique. Many players will either say they’re OK, cover up their symptoms or beg to go back into a game after a “big hit” to the head. They’ll go so far as to fake their way through a concussion test, just to continue playing.
Which brings up the question: Should there be an independent neurologist present on the sidelines for every NFL game? And why do independent neurologists only become involved after the concussion diagnosis has been made, if it is acknowledged at all?
I think the answer is obvious. And yes, the NFL has talked the talk, but they haven’t walked the walk…yet.
Under ideal circumstances, the NFL would institute the following:
1. Placement of a safety official in the replay booth, who is charged with monitoring the field, the sidelines, and any available replays for evidence of a player who possibly has been concussed…
2. An independent neurologist per team at field level who would be buzzed by the safety official to conduct a comprehensive exam of any player who possibly has suffered a concussion…
3. Mandatory examination of the player who possibly has suffered a concussion, in a comfortable area of the locker room, with shoulder pads off and the doctor and player able to engage in a candid and thorough exchange.
Meanwhile, a wave of litigation filed by more than 2,000 former National Football League players over how the league has handled concussions is placing physicians at the forefront of the legal debate.
No surprise there.
The players claim that for years, the NFL failed to warn about concussion risks and impose proper safety regulations, leading to long-term brain injuries among athletes.
Legal experts say that at the heart of the lawsuits is the medical science of concussions and the health professionals responsible for conveying such knowledge to players and the public.
There’s a lot for everyone to learn.
Other articles you might be interested in reading:
Concussions: Helping Your Brain Heal
Are NFL Football Hits Getting Harder And More Dangerous?
Brain Injuries And The NFL: A Fan’s 5 Stages Of Grief
Doctors: Bench Athletes At First Concussion Sign
To subscribe to Epilepsytalk.com and get the latest articles, go to the bottom box of the right column and click on “Sign me up!”