Concussions in the NFL - Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks out
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
The SuperBowl has come and gone but lingering effects of the hard hitting plays has some doctors, like CNN"s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, concerned. The players are 250 pounds of pure muscle and are like human machines that smash into one another. The game has been played for decades and now some doctors are beginning to see some lasting damage from some of those plays and tackles.
"You see people with memory loss, remember these are young people.. You see people with early on-set Alzheimers or stroke-like symptoms and they are only in their 20s or 30s," says Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Dr. Gupta is a neurosurgeon and also the Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN. He is also an expert on Traumatic Brain Injuries, including concussions.
"A concussion is a brain injury. and terms do matter. As soon as you call it a brain injury everyone's attitude changes a bit.. From people on sidelines to players, its not just getting your bell rung. Thats a brain injury," says Dr. Gupta.
After former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau committedd suicide last year in his home in San Diego, his family donated his brain for research. His brain was found to hafve evidence of "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy", or CTE. Its a degenerative disease that is caused by conccusions and other repeated head traumas. CTE symptoms include memory loss, mood disorders, depression and early on-set dementia. Seau's family is now suing the NFL for wrongful death.
Former NFL player Fred "The Hammer" Williamson is famous for his signature tacke. He says he knows first hand the effects of a concussion.
"They walked me off (the field). Two times in the championship game.. I had to sit on the bench, they put their fingers in my face, and used smelling salts. After that, I was put back in the game and we won. But, I dont remember playing the second half. I don't remember the plane ride home. I don't remember who won the game," says Williamson.
Williamson says he believes NFL players know what they're signing up for when they play football.
Now, Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, is making changes to the game. He plans to pursue suspensions to discipline players who violate player safety rules with actions like hits to the head. He also wants nuerosurgeons on the sidelines and longer postseason physicals.
Fortunately, Williamson suffers no effects from his time on the field. And, Dr. Gupta says he is lucky.