Expert Links Football Players’ Concussions to Behavioral Problems, Slams NFL Settlement Deal

Nov 17, 2014

A brain injury expert from Boston University is speaking out for players he feels have been unfairly excluded from a settlement deal in the class action lawsuit against the NFL over the health effects of play-related brain injury.

Robert Stern filed an affidavit with the court and then took his story to the press, telling The Associated Press (AP) that the compensation in the settlement may be going to the wrong people.

Stern told AP reporters that behavioral problems, including domestic violence, drug addiction and suicide, can all be caused by chronic traumatic encephalopathy — also known as CTE — a condition caused by repetitive head trauma.

Right now, doctors cannot physically diagnose CTE until after a patient has died. As such, it has been difficult to link football and CTE.

But a recent report on that link is causing a stir. PBS Frontline recently went in-depth on a new report from Boston University and the Department of Veterans Affairs, who collaborate within a center that studies CTE. The center studied the brains of 79 deceased NFL players and found evidence of CTE in 76 of them.

In addition, the center studied a range of other football players — high school, college and semi-professional. All told, more than 80 percent of all football players studied showed signs of CTE.

In light of the findings, which suggest a very strong link between football and CTE, Stern was troubled by the settlement deal in the NFL concussion case. He told the AP that repetitive head trauma does not lead to Alzheimer’s disease — a condition covered by the settlement. But serious mood and behavior disorders, which are linked to repetitive head trauma and CTE, are not covered. As such, many players who suffer the symptoms of significant neurological damage from football could be left out of the settlement.

Some NFL players have already opted out of the class-action case in order to file individual lawsuits against the NFL, according to ABC News.

The class action lawsuit against the NFL was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and is case number 2:12-md-02323-AB.

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