Will Smith’s “Concussion” Movie

Carlo Rinaudo Concussion and mTBI Leave a Comment

“If I’d have seen this movie when I was in high school…I would have never played football.”

The movie “Concussion” that was released into theaters in December 2015, has changed the way many people look at contact sports like football. Former sport stars like Pierre Woods (statement above) even doubt if they would have played the game if they had known about the consequences of concussions. [1][2][3]

So what exactly happens in the movie?

The body of a former football legend Mike Webster, who played “center” for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was found in a pickup truck where his life ended in 2002. Webster had suffered from symptoms like hallucinations, rage attacks and other mental problems prior to his death.

A well-educated forensic pathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu, discovers that Webster had severe brain damage while conducting certain tests during the autopsy. Dr. Omalu discovers that Mike Webster died as an indirect result of the long term consequences of enduring multiple blows to his head during his career. Dr. Bennet Omalu, decides to name the disorder Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

After reporting his findings, he publishes a paper with the help of Julian Bailes (former doctor of the Steelers team) and Steven T. DeKosky (a neurologist) and Cyril Wecht (county coroner) which is initially rejected by the NFL.

As time goes by, more NFL champions like Terry Long, Andre Waters and Justin Strzelczyk start having the same symptoms before their eventual deaths. Dr. Omalu discovers that they all ended up having test results similar to that of Webster and after much ado he persuades Roger Goodell (the new NFL commissioner) to allow him to present his theory and findings on player safety in front of a committee. The NFL, however, looks down on Dr. Omalu and do not consider his findings as serious.

Dr. Omalu is put under immense pressure to bring his efforts to an end and eventually has to leave his home and move to California where he starts to work at the coroner’s office of San Joaquin County.

Justice prevails when Dave Duerson (executive of the NFL Players Association) admits that Dr. Omalu was right about CTE in his suicide letter and ultimately the NFL could no longer disregard the issue.

The resolute Dr. Omalu is offered the position of chief medical examiner by the District of Columbia which he turns down because of his preference to work with autopsies. [1][4]

What are the AFL and NRL doing to reduce the dangers of concussion?

The AFL has introduced management guidelines for the game for improved safety management relating to concussion injuries. Some features include:

  • A player who is (or is even suspected to be) concussed should be assed medically and should not return to the game or to the training practice session.
  • A trained first aider should be present at every game to deal with injured or unconscious players.
  • Player who are concussed should get a formal medical clearance before returning to school or training. [5]

The NRL have certain steps in place for the management of concussions:

  • Look for signs and symptoms of concussion (balance problems, dizziness, memory problems etc.)
  • First aid is then applied and the back and neck is immobilized if needed.
  • The person should then be lifted from the ground before the Concussion Recognition Tool is used for assessment.
  • An ambulance should be called if any worsening confusion, vomiting, loss of consciousness or worsening headache is present and if these signs are not present, the player is not to return to the game and is advised to be assessed by a medical professional. [6]

Public awareness

“The human brain has no such safety belt.” (From “Concussion” 2015) [1]

People should be aware of the after-effects of concussions and head injuries. Many people suffer from the devastating effects of concussions with mild and acquired traumatic brain injuries that lead to significant impairment in their daily lives and functioning. Poor balance, brain fog, depression and anxiety, dizziness, chronic pain, poor sleep and memory impairment are all common symptoms that they complain about. At Brain Hub we offer the most comprehensive assessment and tailored therapy program to overcome the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome and help restore people’s lives.

References:

  1. “Concussion” Movie 2015 (Peter Landesman).
  2. Snyder M. ‘Concussion’ makes ex-Wolverine consider cost of football. Detroit Free Press. December 2015. Available from: http://www.freep.com/story/sports/college/university-michigan/wolverines/2015/12/20/concussion-movie-michigan-wolverines-pierre-woods/77657692/.
  3. Kaplan E. ‘Paid to Give Concussions’. December 2015. Available from: http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2015/12/09/nfl-retired-players-watch-react-to-concussion-movie-will-smith.
  4. Dargis M. Review: In ‘Concussion,’ a Doctor’s Cri de Coeur against football’s risks. December 2015. Available from: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/25/movies/review-in-concussion-a-doctors-cri-de-coeur-against-footballs-risks.html?referrer=google_kp&_r=0.
  5. AFL Community. Concussion. Available from: http://www.aflcommunityclub.com.au/index.php?id=66
  6. McCrory P, Meeuwisse W, Aubry MK, Cantu B, et al. Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport: the 4rd International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2012. Br J Sports Med. 2013 April; 47 Suppl. 5; 250-26.

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