Winslade_Protection of Athletes Becoming an Ethical Issue_Houston Chron_Sept 24, 2010

Winslade_Protection of Athletes Becoming an Ethical Issue_Houston Chron_Sept 24, 2010

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Unformatted text preview: ‘ < : a a a a a K K . . . u. . x x . a .. .. I, .9 1:33} yizg 1?}.éggfaS§2?§Er¢?{{€§(nu.» “3.5.; 2. 1.5.? r>.y,)???é?;.a???§{z§{26:65g .; a: y .. .. y y . xv}??? 523 I?.§,§}?§..€32)}? . . .126:3iii...;,x.,.\..?(...r£;:7..f}l.........{€..;rxiii;yixiiazixi;y:ii,‘ :1, 1 m: {s gam ck Case Keéfn'ié qaartefba as preview 9 B. .E L. C .i .N .0 ‘R ..H C N 0 .T S U. 0 H 0 1:. 5 g 3“, 2 m m w n. e S m. .3» .fl F if. . «9va Y 4 v—:» fivw‘w" i n Technology, protocols gcan’t solve the problem By WEE-AM WiRSLABE and BANKS. GOtDBERG finiversity of Hous‘ ton star quarterback Case Keenurn wobbied off the field in a Sept. 10 game against . ' UTEP, the Houston Chron- }icle noted that the schooi’s medical staff ' sprang into a "spe-liedmut-inwriting, concus- . Sion management mode” in accordance with guidelines issued by the NCAA Executive : Committee. Concussions sustained on the ;.football fieid used to be dismissed by coaches, Ltrainers and players as just an unfortunate part of the game. Those days, thankfully, are : behind us. ’ The potential severity of concussions can no longer be up for debate. Earlier this year, 21-year-old Owen Thomas, a former Univer- ' himself in his off~carnpus apartment. An ' autopsy revealed that Thomas suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (GTE), a condition that typically results from repeated blows to the surface of the brain. Commonly known as “punclrdrunk syndrome,” C’I’E was long thought to be an occupational hazard . of the boxing ring. The news that Thomas ' had suffered from CTE provoked a wave of . concern among football players and their - families. I .- More than £3 million American children 2 and adolescents play some organized form of 3’ football. When large numbers of young people " with developing brains are exposed to the . risks associated with concussions, an urgent _ question becomes: “Whatlevel of risk is toler- - able?" Parents must answer this question for 3 any minor child who plays football. Adults who play football must answer this question - for themselves. _ Mild, moderate or severe concussions can . result from helmet—to-heimet collisions, and they may provoke bruising or bleeding in the brain that can cause dizziness, confusion, cog— nitive deficits or loss of consciousness. Both ' CTE and concussions can pose serious and even life-threatening risks to football players. For years the National Football League minim ' mizcd those risks. When the former leader of (the N§Es concussion committee denied the link between football and brain injuries in 1: testimony to congressional leaders, legislators dikened his testimony to the tobacco indus- ;' try’s denials about the connections between _ smoking and cancer. ' Here’s what concerned families and play- ) ers should know. First, better helmets cannot entirely solve this problem. There is lirtle evi- dence suggesting that improved helmet tech- nology can substantially reduce the risks and , effects of CTE and concussions. sity of Pennsylvania football player, hanged . The tection oi athletes zbecorning an ethical issue A brain iniury occurs when the brain slams against the interior of the shuli with signifi- cant force, Given the violence of collisions in football, no helmet can entirely prevent this gies that can improve the safety of players important, but given the power and soeed of football players. especially at the higher levels of the sport, concussions are inevitable. Second, although medical research cow tinues to moire important contributions to football and concussion science, there is an enormous amount we simply do not know. For example, how many concussions are suffi‘ cient to cause long—term neuropathy like C’FE (although research suggests the number may be quite small)? When (if ever) is it safe. for a player who has suffered a concussion to return to the field? The fact that welidntentioned trainers, physicians and administrators have crafted protocols governing concussion man— agement is an important step — but protocols and practice guidelines are only as good as the quality of the evidence that supports them. if we do not know the answers to the questions about the safe management of concussions in football clayers, all the protocols in the world will not solve the problems. Third, because the long-term injuries linked to brain injuries unfold over time, it may ultimately prove impossible to devise any protocol for determining in the field whether and when it is safe for a player who has our? fered a concussion to return to play. Because the damage may only show up over a long period of time, testing that is performed hours or even days after the injury occurred may not reveal the extent of the damage and the risks of further injury. And current protocols that restrict players recovering from concussions to practice with their teammates may do more harm than good, given that research has cons firmed the severity and high frequency of vio~ lent collisions during intrasquad practices. It is heartening to see the issues of GTE and concussions gaining urgency in the wane oi widespread news stories. But we must realize that the risks of concussions and the mag? nitude of the harms they cause may be sig- nificantly larger than we previously believed, Further, we must move past the idea that hel- met technology or concussion—managernenr protocois can care all of the problems. The only thing we can say with certainty is that there will be no easy solutions. We must confront an ethical question: namely, what levels of risk of brain injuries are tolerable for piayers in pursuit of 'a game they love? That is the question that players and parents must answer. Winslode teaches health law and bioethics at the University of Houston Law Center and the University of Texas Medical Branch in' Galveston. Goldberg teaches bioethics at est Carolina University Medical School. ’I v. mt'wmvmrmwmmmwuwwwwew-wnmhwww ww h'vwwuu ow. u. c . . .. nun.«cwwwW-m-«vvvwmww vv-v-m'w c w www'vw c . “NV-w . u. w u. ...
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Winslade_Protection of Athletes Becoming an Ethical Issue_Houston Chron_Sept 24, 2010

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