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Feb 20, 2011

There is an awakening occurring, finally, about the connection between football and brain injury.  Of course, it is not only football.  Basketball, soccer, diving also have their risks of brain injury.  However, football, today,  seems to be to our culture what baseball was when I was growing up.  It is a great attractor of children, adolescents, and adults.  It is filled with pageantry, pride, personal effort, and respect for great achievement and drive under pressure and against difficult odds.  It is also, of course, a huge business, providing large profits for owners and great wealth for some professional players. 

Life is about risk, for sure, but as parents, and doctors, it is also about weighing risks versus benefits.  Selfless acts of bravery and self sacrifice for the preservation of human life or principles like justice and protection of the weak aside, it behooves us to always weigh the benefits of an act against its risk, and against alternative activities that might yield similar results with lower risk. 

Maybe self sacrifice was part of what Mr. Duerson had in mind when he killed himself this past week and requested that his brain be donated to Boston University for the study of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, the current name for chronic post concussion syndrome.  One would hope.  More likely, his suicide is the result of incredible and intolerable pain and hopelessness of ever being able to get any relief.  It is indeed a permanent solution to a temporary state.  Suicidal feelings or intentions are a medical emergency and that person should seek care immediately or be brought for help by those around him or her.  That being said, perhaps Mr. Duerson thought he could be of more help dead than alive.  I doubt it.  He participated in helping other players with CTE, but no one knows, for sure, what was in his mind or heart.  You might want to read about it in the New York Times Sports Section:


I didn't know Mr. Duerson, or even much about his career until now.  Yet, I regret his passing and just as much the personal pain he went through that brought him to this place.  My condolences go to those who suffer this as a personal loss. 

One thing for sure is that brain injury IS TREATABLE.  If you have ever played football or have a child who has, he or she may have suffered a mild brain injury.  Certainly a concussion is evidence of injury and repeated concussions even more so.  It would be wise to see a neurologist and get a very thorough exam.  The neurologist should have experience in diagnosing and treating mild traumatic brain injury.  Too often the symptoms are minimized or missed.  The most sensitive tests for mild TBI are Quantitative EEG, SPECT scans and neuropsychological testing. 

Do yourself, your spouse, and your child a favor, sustain life, and get checked.


All the Best,

Dr. Gluck

Neurofeedback, NFL, DUERSON attention deficit disorder, ADD, ADHD,hyperactivity, Aspergers, autism, depression, anxiety, DAN doctor, Neurology

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