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Keep it in Mind: The Danger of Contact Sports

May 12, 2014 | Michael Barasch

Recent studies reveal the danger of concussive damage on any playing field. 

They used to call it “punch drunk,” a common name for dementia pugilistica. Suffered by boxers and fighters, the disorder now known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is making deadly inroads into athletes of all ages and sports. The connecting factor?  Repetitive trauma to the head. 

In late 2013, the National Football League (NFL) entered into a controversial $765 million settlement agreement with former players suffering from several neurologically disabling disorders. In early, 2014, the settlement was rejected by a federal judge as potentially insufficient to meet the needs of parties to the agreement. 

While CTE was once the domain of boxers and now football players, post-mortem analysis of two other athletes widened the playing field for those at risk for the degenerative effects of CTE: 

  • Only 29-years old, soccer player Patrick Grange died in April 2012 of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). ALS is associated with CTE. A star on the soccer field, Mr. Grange practiced heading the soccer ball from a young age. Evaluation of his brain tissue after death revealed that Mr. Grange suffered Stage Two CTE. Extensive damage was observed in the area of his brain corresponding to the physical action of heading. 
  • Former major league baseball star Ryan Freel committed suicide in December 2012. Mr. Freel suffered concussive trauma throughout his career in the outfield and running bases. After death, analysis showed Mr. Freel suffered Stage Two CTE. 

Boxing, football, soccer and major league baseball are all playgrounds for degenerative brain disease. When you or your children play sports—keep it in mind. 

If you suffer brain or other accidental trauma due to the negligence of others in New York, always seek experienced legal counsel.

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