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Steinberg: Breakthrough is coming

June 23, 2013|By Leigh Steinberg

Since I became alarmed some 30 years ago about the lack of certainty for long-term consequences caused by concussions suffered by my superstar NFL clients, the news has gotten progressively more discouraging.

Breakthroughs in brain research and extensive testing of retired athletes has made it clear that our society is about to witness an epidemic of symptoms and damage in athletes in a variety of sports. Training techniques have created a new breed of robo-athletes able to run more quickly at greater size with unprecedented power. The physics of the collision have changed.

Pioneer researchers like Dr. Robert Cantu, Dr. Julian Bailes, Dr. Robert Hovda and Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz have conducted studies, which seem to point toward three or more concussions as a trigger point. Multiple concussions can cause exponentially higher rates of ALS, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, premature senility and dementia, elevated rates of depression and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It has become clearer that low-level concussive events occur on every play in a game like football. The player is stunned, stays on the field and is never diagnosed. An offensive lineman playing in high school, college and the NFL could retire having suffered 10,000 low-level brain events, the aggregate having the same effect on the brain as a small number of dramatic hits.

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After being involved with six concussion seminars and understanding the depth of this danger we never have been able to find a way to stop the concussion from occurring or do much to treat the consequences. The brain is the key to personality, memory and judgment so this is an injury much different than any other. I have asked repeatedly why the same technological innovation which can send a space launch to Mars can't be employed in protective devices and healing modalities. A group of researchers and technologists are finally addressing the problem — and there is hope.

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