Just recently, a government agency compiled a workplace safety fact sheet which was based on a study of degenerative brain disease in retired NFL players. While many suggestions were made, one comment stood out: a request that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (also C.T.E.), a disease resembling Alzheimer's, be removed from the list of ailments linked to repeated head trauma in NFL players.
Despite spreading awareness and making rule changes regarding head injuries in past years, the NFL was hesitant to accept the link between injuries incurred by NFL players and C.T.E., a serious, life-threatening condition. An NFL doctor, who expressed doubts over the validity of the connection due to a lack of evidence, proposed that a substitute, traumatic brain injury (T.B.I.), be used instead.
Jeffrey Kutcher, a neurologist at the University of Michigan, responded with disapproval, stating that the proposed change was a digression from the results of the original Niosh study.
Richard Ellenbogen, the chairman of the University of Washington’s neurological surgery department and a co-chairman of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee, also agreed to proceed with caution, stating that T.B.I. was a clinical diagnosis that could be observed in living patients where as C.T.E. is a pathological diagnosis that is relatively difficult to identify.
Whether C.T.E. or T.B.I. is included on the list, it should be noted that several thousand retired NFL players have accused the NFL of purposefully downplaying the dangers of head injuries.
Questions: Do you think it's important to provide information regarding not only concussions but also other serious diseases which stem from repeated head trauma to all football players, especially NFL players? Do you think the NFL is doing more harm or good in spreading awareness while simultaneously hushing severe illnesses in NFL retirees? Should C.T.E. or T.B.I. be placed on the list of diseases / disorders linked to NFL head injuries / concussions? What's more important: medical accuracy or addressing a potentially serious condition?