Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Is the NFLPA Blocking Brain Injury Treatment?

George Visger would like to put the kind of pressure on the NFLPA, that a brain hemorrhage put on him. The kind that changed his life. The kind that might have saved Dave Duerson, Ray Easterling and Junior Seau.
George Visger
The former 49er sent an email to NFLPA chief De Maurice Smith accusing the union of blocking a new treatment to reduce the long term health effects of traumatic brain injuries. "At the Barbershop," was also sent a copy of the email.

"This could save countless players and their families from the hell my family has had to deal with the last 32 years due to my early onset, NFL caused dementia like symptoms, said Visger, a traumatic brain injury survivor, and the head of the Visger
Junior Seau
Group, a Traumatic Brain Injury Consulting concern. Visger says the NFLPA has yet to react to his recommendation to use hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT) for acute traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions. These kinds of concussions are widely believed to cause CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy a progressive,
Dave Duerson
degenerative brain disease caused by repeated traumatic brain injury. Thirty-four former NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE. The list includes Duerson, Easterling and Seau. All three men suffered from crushing depression, a CTE symptom, and committed suicide.

In the email, Visger said, "Studies have shown receiving a HBOT within the first hour of a head injury can ameliorate the majority of inflammation to neurons.  Not only returning the player to play exponentially faster and saving the owners money, but more importantly, preventing early death of those inflamed neurons and brain cells."

The email also said that Dr. Richard Ellenborgen, a neurosurgeon who works with the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Injury Group, "voiced his continued frustration," with the NFLPA and Dr. Thomas Mayer, the union's medical staff director, over the union's inaction adopting this new treatment for players.
Hyperbaric Chamber

"The owners have agreed to treat 50 concussions this year with hyperbaric oxygen treatments.  It seems the only obstacle is the one who should be the biggest proponent of treating the players. "

YOU and the NFLPA!!!   A reference to Smith and the union.

The primary physical manifestations of CTE is a reduction in brain weight. So, its not now possible to diagnose, beyond a reasonable doubt, a living current or former NFL, NHL, professional boxer or other athlete prone to head injuries with CTE, since the brain can only be weighed during an autopsy following death.

However, the symptoms of CTE are increasing providing an early warning of the potential for the disease in current and former players. In addition to depression, dementia, memory loss and aggression are other symptoms. When players with those symptoms, and/or those with a history of concussions are revealed, Visger believes addressing CTE with hyperbaric oxygen treatments can at least slow down the effects of CTE.

Visger did not cite the studies, but is understandably anxious to have sound medical therapy implemented for the treatment of brain injuries. Visger got a Super Bowl Ring with the 49ers in 1981 but his season ended long before San Francisco played Cincinnati in the Silver Dome. Visger says he suffered a severe concussion in a game against Dallas in week six, but claims to have had his first concussion at the age of 11 playing pee wee football in Stockton, CA.

Since the 1981 season, Visger has had multiple brain surgeries, and suffers from memory loss. In fact, Visger blames his below average memory for a mischaracterization of Dr. Ellenborgen's position. Dr. Ellenborgen wrote Visger this: "We can NOT implement anything without the full approval of the NFLPA and NFL leadership.  Despite many good ideas they must be properly vetted through the NFL and NFLPA." AND
"What I told you is that the players are our patients and we can not do anything without their permission, period." Dr. Ellenborgen may not have said he was frustrated, but he confirms there has been no action taken on the recommendation to use hyperbaric oxygen treatments. And if, as Visger claims, the owners are all-in, and there is no other improvement treatment on the radar, what is holding up a decision from the NFLPA?

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