Epilepsy Talk

A Fallen Football Hero… | October 27, 2018

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 uncontrolled seizures.

His football days are done.

And life as he knew it, will never be the same.

His case, unfortunately, is not unique.

Researchers found evidence of degenerative brain disease in 110 out of 111 deceased National Football League players, said researcher Dr. Daniel Daneshvar, with the Boston University School of Medicine.

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.


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  1. Just like the Greatest Boxing Champion of the world, Mohammed Ali ended up being victim of brain injuries for all the physical impacts of the boxing matches he endured for decades, obviously the full physical force of impact in football games look more dangerous cause for concussions & head/brain injuries.
    Therefore, the football players should know the potential risks of head/physical injuries just like soldiers going to war.
    But being young rising stars at the prime time of their lives, reaping the precious achievements of a lifetime dream, many athletes may certainly ignore or deny the the head injuries they’re sustaining to remain in the limelight of sport’s gratification they have worked for most of their lifetime to reach.
    And in some cases, I wonder if the brain surgeries the athletes sought to cure for their brain injuries are the last straw that broke the camel’s back, invalidating the athletes.
    Looking back, one wonders if posting WARNING LABELS in every football helmet could had helped the athletes to make better choices & decisions, avoiding the consequences of concussions & head injuries, eliminating the accusation & litigation nightmares between the teams & athletes.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by BahreNegash Eritrea — October 27, 2018 @ 11:08 PM

    • “Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right.” – Muhammad Ali

      For football players it might even be more so.

      One, for the dangers (and follies) they submit themselves to every day…

      Two, for the pride they’ve invested into their performance…

      And three, the consequences of their actions.

      I can understand not wanting to “give up”.

      What I can’t understand is why the NFL makes this into a gladiator fight.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 28, 2018 @ 12:03 AM

      • The timeless wisdom behind Ali’s words coming from a very strongman who lived to conquer the boxing world but ended up trembling to raise his once phantom arms, struggling to stand solid straight to walk & searching for the words to talk out of his mouth has proved true courageous experience, inspiring many of us to keep living life like the champion, knowing that how fragile life can be.
        It’s great to have heroes to look up to.
        Sadly, the NFL & the sports industry are immune from the liability laws that apply to the rest of the world, therefore for corporate interest of the NFL & sports industry, the athletes are expendable ammunitions that can easily get replaced with the next SUPER STAR would be, waiting in line to take over the injured athletes position/space.
        Obviously, the players UNION needs to stand up & write the rules, where the athletes interest & wellbeing is protected & the NFL must adhere to the Union’s rules to stay in business.
        Enforcing the rules of the athletes safety & wellbeing needs to be the Athletes UNION obligations & responsibilities & save the athletes from traumatizing injuries, rejection & litigations.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by BahreNegash Eritrea — October 28, 2018 @ 1:42 PM

      • I agree completely Gerrie.

        It is the players union’s responsibility, but as long as there are no complaints — players insist on going back onto the field, despite being seriously injured — and as long as the players comply, there will be no real protection.

        There’s always someone waiting in the wings, and even Jerome Harrison would have continued, sick as he was, if not for the neurological exam, required in a team trade.

        Is that the only time the NFL cares? When they’re trading one piece of “meat” for another?


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 28, 2018 @ 2:23 PM

      • Money ?

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Mark — October 29, 2018 @ 9:54 AM

      • You betcha!


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 29, 2018 @ 9:56 AM

  2. Do you really need a neurologist to tell you that repeated blows to the head cannot possibly be good for you?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Martha — October 28, 2018 @ 11:45 AM

  3. Even though I’m not a football fan, I’ve always wondered how many of the football players end up having to go see neurologists. The helmets are just like an extra Cranium (if I spelled that right), but with the way those players run into each other! I would say that the helmet is just an extra Cranium, that post pones inevitable damage. Writing this actually makes me think of when my head hit that hard church floor, in 4th grade, and started my Epilepsy.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by David Jensen — October 28, 2018 @ 11:49 AM

    • My seizures began when I was ice skating (speed skating), and some jerk tripped me. Into the wall I went, full force.

      And the rest is history…


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 28, 2018 @ 12:15 PM

  4. I know that this is going off subject a little but if the end result was epilepsy anyway, would it help anyone if they knew the cause of their epilepsy ? Even if they couldn’t do anything about it ?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mark — October 29, 2018 @ 9:53 AM

    • Well, it would help. But there are so many types of epilepsy, so many reasons and so many different treatments, that it’s often difficult to tell.

      For example, I know how I got my epilepsy — a head trauma from speed skating. Some jerk tripped me and I went straight into the wall, full force.

      It took a long time to find the meds that were right for me (Lamictal and Klonopin), but I’m one of the lucky ones.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 29, 2018 @ 10:02 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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