According to a report released by a member of the House of Representatives, the NFL attempted to influence a study that would examine the link between brain injury and football. The league initially agreed to give $30 million to the National Institutes of Health, but it reneged on its promise after $16 million was to be given to a Boston University researcher who the NFL feared was biased against its interests.
According to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many children are being treated for concussions sustained as a result of playground injuries. In 2013, more than 29,000 children visited emergency rooms to be treated for serious head injuries including concussions. In 2001, the number was 18,000. Researchers said the steep rise began in 2009.
Older adults in West Virginia and around the country who have certain conditions could face an elevated risk of experiencing a traumatic brain injury. Researchers in a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society linked heart problems, depression, difficulty with daily activities or suffering from more than one chronic disease to a higher rate of traumatic brain injuries among that segment of the population.
West Virginia residents often sustain traumatic brain injuries when they accidentally slip and fall on a wet or uneven surface. Contact sports, car accidents and assaults are some other common causes of these types of head injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 50,000 people die annually from TBIs, and these injuries result in 2.2 million emergency room visits a year.
West Virginia football fans may not be particularly surprised that more than 40 percent of retired NFL players who were involved in a study showed evidence of having abnormal brain structures. Additionally, approximately 50 percent of the participants showed serious problems when taking cognitive tests that included reasoning, planning and problem-solving.
West Virginia residents often incur traumatic brain injuries when they are involved in car accidents or serious falls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that over half of TBIs are sustained in those two types of events. TBIs can range from mild to severe, and a concussion is a synonymous term for a mild TBI.
Most people would probably agree that West Virginia construction workers are engaged in a high-risk occupation. This was confirmed by a study of the risk of traumatic brain injury to which workers in various industries are exposed. According to a report based on the results of the study, more than 2,200 construction workers around the country died between 2003 and 2010 from brain trauma. The deaths represented 25 percent of total fatalities from all causes during that period in the construction industry.
Between 2003 and 2010, there were 2,210 deaths attributed to a traumatic brain injury in the construction industry. This translates to a rate of 2.6 deaths per 100,000 workers, and they accounted for a quarter of all deaths in the industry during that time period. However, the number of fatalities caused by TBIs declined each year between 2003 and 2010.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new medical device that could identify brain injuries in athletes in less than a minute. The product, which uses virtual reality to detect eye movement impairment, is designed for the sidelines of playing fields and could help protect football players and other athletes in West Virginia and nationwide.
While West Virginia residents incur head injuries for various reasons, professional sports has provided an avenue for exploring the long-term implications of serious or multiple traumatic brain injuries. Football has been an area of particular concern, and a recent acknowledgement by an NFL official about the link between the sport and serious brain disease issues has added credence to the concerns being raised not only with football but also with other sports and scenarios.