Matt Chaney, who has been critical of the establishment on various subjects including concussions highlights what Jim McMahon and his group of NFL’ers have been saying in preparations for the law suits aimed at the league. The following excerpt from a Chaney post on his blog appeared in June of 2011, prior to all the suits (bold my emphasis);
Doctors and medical researchers have long agreed boxing can cause brain damage in athletes and lead to personality disorders and outbursts, through repetitive impacts both concussive and sub-concussive.
A 1973 study on postmortem evidence of 15 ex-pro boxers who suffered “punch-drunk syndrome” documented their “violent behavior and rage reaction” through interviews of relatives. Several of the boxers died in psychiatric wards.
Decades earlier, boxers who became demented and deranged were known as “slug nutty,” according to a 1928 report by Dr. Harrison Martland.
Meanwhile, yet today, the NFL and loyalist experts loathe admitting that tackle football even causes long-term impairment, much less off-field violence by players and chaos for families.
Neuropsychologist Mark R. Lovell, career NFL consultant with a PhD—and marketer of the critically rebuked ImPACT “concussion testing” pushed by the league’s media machine—helped author a 2011 review that concludes “adverse long-term neurocognitive effects of concussive injury have been demonstrated empirically in professional boxers only” [italics for emphasis].
The NFL’s stalling about brain damage in players is easy to lampoon, along with its PR measures such as arbitrary fines for helmet hits and lousy concussion assessments.
But there is legal logic for NFL absurdity in the issue, say astute observers, and especially the league’s acting innocent when an active player or retiree goes berserk.
“This shows that the NFL is frightened about getting sued,” Dr. Gabe Mirkin, sports medicine pioneer and erstwhile Redskins consultant, told Washington City Paper. “Mark my words: The NFL is going to be at the end of a lawsuit where a guy says they should be paying for this or that criminal behavior, because some guy got hit in the head too much playing football, and a jury will be convinced of that.”
“And that is a reasonable argument. The brain controls everything. And there’s accumulating evidence to show that getting hit in the head can cause anything to change—thought processes, mood, anything. The NFL has to act like it’s taking action.”
The last paragraph even goes further in the concussion awareness and assessment realm, as Don Brady, PhD a serial commenter on the blog stated upon reading this paragraph;
This spotlights why valid concussion assessments need to thoroughly evaluate all 3 brain-related areas: cognitive (and not a partial screening), emotional and physical functioning.
Dustin, the question remains, why do some boxers develop a “glass jaw” and others don’t. Why are athletes in the NFL and NHL different from those boxers who become prone to bouts of dizziness, nausea, headaches and KO. The research is underway.
Credit for emphasizing the need for thoroughness re a ‘mild concussion /brain injury’ assessment along with the need to be aware of the lack of sensitivity of some concussion assessment procedures may be given to knowledge obtained from the following authors/clinicians (there are additional authors cited in my 2004 research) mentioned below…these excerpts are from my 2004 Dissertation re Active and Retired NFL Players’ Knowledge of Conciussions
In an extensive review of research pertaining to mild brain injury, Reitan & Wolfson (2000) strongly cautioned that many researchers who have examined mild brain injury have typically not employed comprehensive neuropsychological test batteries in their methodology. The authors perceive this as a MAJOR FLAW in evaluating the impact of mild brain injury, because they firmly believe that standard neuropsychological test batteries have frequently been shown to be sensitive to both focal and diffuse brain damage. They also pointed out that researchers typically have limited their assessment and focus due to
“a premature presumption that neuropsychological impairment is limited to a rather narrow range of deficits, and that a restricted range of tests is all that is required for adequate neuropsychological assessment. Our clinical experience suggests that mild brain injury produces diversified and even widespread neuropsychological losses in some patients (p.97).
The medical evaluation component of a brain injury assessment is also highly suspect since typical medical assessment methods (i.e., neurology exam, EEG, brain-imaging techniques) utilized in determining adverse effects of mild brain injury are rather gross and insensitive, and thus false conclusions may be derived which report no neurological deficits were sustained (p.43).”
A similar perspective pertaining to false conclusions was shared by McClelland (1996) when he cautioned, “…the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” (p. 566). This view was reiterated by Gronwall (1991), who stated, “…it is impossible to prove the null hypothesis. Failure to show a deficit does not prove that no deficit exists, and the neuropsychologist has a responsibility to make sure that appropriate tests for assessment are selected” (p. 257).
Damasio (1994), during a case presentation in which he discussed a particular patient, also noted problems with tests not being sensitive enough to adequately measure brain dysfunction/ impairment; he declared that “a problem here lies with the test, not with the patients. The tests simply do not address properly the particular functions compromised and thus fail to measure any neurocognitive decline” (p. 41).