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I am tired of hearing defense-oriented doctors act like concussions aren’t real injuries.  A concussion is a brain injury.  Some concussions resolve relatively quickly, some take up to two years to resolve, and, in a minority of cases, the effects are permanent.  This should not be a controversial premise.  It is the position of the United States Department of Defense, the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Football League.

Indeed, in every NFL locker room hangs a poster entitled, “CONCUSSION, A Must Read for NFL Players | Let’s Take Brain Injuries Out of Play.”

The NFL CONCUSSION poster states the following “CONCUSSION FACTS:”

  • Concussion is a brain injury that alters the way your brain functions.

  • Most concussions occur without being knocked unconscious.

  • Severity of injury depends on many factors and is not known until symptoms resolve and brain function is back to normal.

  • All concussions are not created equally.  Each player is different, each injury is different….

Sources:  See also, U.S. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs and Dep’t of Defense Clinical Practice Guideline for Management of Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, March 2009.

The next time you hear a doctor minimize the effects of concussion, think about what the CDC, the Department of Defense and NFL have to say about the issue.  Studies have shown that two soldiers, football players or vehicle passengers can experience the same acceleration/deceleration forces to their head, and one could have a traumatic brain injury (a/k/a concussion) that resolves in a few days or weeks, while the other has a traumatic brain injury with permanent residual symptoms.  The latter may also be referred to as permanent post-concussive syndrome.

Former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver  Austin Collie contributed an article to describing his successful brain injury rehabilitation after a series of concussions suffered between 2010 and 2012.  Mr. Collie was among the lucky ones whose brain responded well to brain injury rehabilitation.  For every Austin Collie, there is a Ken Stabler, Mike Webster, Dave Duerson, Chris Henry, Justin Strzelczyk, Terry Long, Terry Bradshaw, Andre Waters, John Grimsley, Junior Seau, Richmond’s own Ray Esterling, Troy Aikman, and others who suffered lasting, sometimes deadly, effects of post-concussion syndrome, in some cases even after extensive brain injury rehabilitation therapy.  It is also worth noting that Mr. Collie now works for a brain injury rehabilitation organization – the CognitiveFX concussion clinic.

As the NFL Concussion poster states, “you brain is the most vital organ in your body.”  It is worth noting that the brain is the consistency of mayonnaise and can move inside the skull and crash into sharp, boney structures within the skull when subjected to external forces.


About Michael Phelan

Michael Phelan has been consistently recognized for his excellence as a trial lawyer, his commitment to research, his outstanding communication skills, and his sincerity and dedication. As one of his valued clients said, “Mike puts his heart into it."