11.20.09

Formerly Toothless Labor Union : Out With The NFL’s Skull Doc

Posted in Gridiron, Medical Science at 4:19 pm by

Sorry, I just can’t get enough of using the phrase, “skull doc” Barely a week goes by without the New York Times’ Allan Schwartz reporting on findings that draw ties between NFL head injuries and one-way tickets to Vegetable City. On Friday, Schwartz reports the NFLPA, less than alarmed when Gene Upshaw was running the show, is pushing for the dismissal of the league’s concussion expert, Dr. Ira Casson.

The viewpoints and role of Casson, the league™s primary voice trying to discredit independent and league-sponsored evidence that has linked N.F.L. careers with heightened risk for dementia and cognitive decline, were a particular point of contention at last month™s hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on football brain injuries.

Several committee members criticized Casson for his stated opinions on the matter as well as his leading the N.F.L.™s study of retired players.

When a league-sponsored phone survey made public in September found that N.F.L. retirees were reporting diagnoses of dementia and other memory-related diseases at several times the rate of the national population, Casson responded, œWhat I take from this report is there™s a need for further studies to see whether or not this finding is going to pan out.

Casson has said that the league™s study of retired players, which he has led since its beginning in 2007, will provide the only reliable evidence on the matter to date when it is published in 2012 or 2013.

That study has been criticized by several outside experts in epidemiology and dementia research, who said the study™s 120 subjects would be too few to find any link, and that Casson™s role in it ” he is conducting every player™s neurological exam personally ” was improper as a matter of medical ethics.

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