Legendary Steelers QB and current star of Fox NFL’s pre-game show, Terry Bradshaw, is courageously sharing his personal hell in the wake of concussions suffered while playing for the Steelers. He talks about brain exercises he does to this day to keep his brain from "getting worse than it is after suffering a career worth of concussions playing football." It is generally accepted in the medical literature that concussions are another word for mild traumatic brain injury.
On foxsports.com, Bradshaw describes the new activities that he’s taking on to help his brain function, which has deteriorated due to his 14-year career in the NFL. Bradshaw writes that his hand-eye coordination is improving from brain rehabilitation, doing such activities as brain puzzles and playing pingpong.
Bradshaw believes he suffered six concussions and numerous other head injuries during his NFL career. Bradshaw had never revealed this much about his struggles with memory loss and depression. One can imagine that such revelations might not be in the best interests of a hight-profile TV analyst. Nonetheless, Bradshaw has the courage to step forward with the hope of helping today’s players.
"Why did I go public? Well, I thought it would be good for a lot of players for this to get out, for me to tell my story because I was a quarterback," Bradshaw wrote. "I just thought it would be good for them to hear what I had to say. I also think other players should speak up and say what they’ve been experiencing. It’s good for the soul and your brain."
Bradshaw mentions his recent short-term memory loss has led to anxiety and eventual depression.
"It was driving me crazy that I couldn’t remember something that I studied the night before," he wrote. "All it did was trigger my anxiety and all of sudden everything would snowball on me."
The Steelers’ Hall of Famer also discussed the NFL’s current stance on concussions, saying he believes the league is doing a good job with their recent efforts in concussion prevention, but the movement is "nowhere where it needs to be.
This is a nice story with an uplifting message of service on behalf of current players by a former sports star. When the average person suffers mild traumatic brain damage from, for example, a car crash, the happy outcomes are few and far between. The car crash victim’s head injury is often initially undiagnosed at the hospital. When she or he starts showing signs of memory loss, depression, problems concentrating, and other cognitive problems, she or he may or may not encounter a treating physician who is knowledgeable enough about brain injury to diagnose post-concussive symptoms. Many physicians continue to ignore this syndrome. Finally, if this victim makes a claim against the negligent driver who caused the crash and the resulting head injuries, the wrongdoer’s insurance company will do everything in its power to avoid responsibility for the harm caused by the brain injury. Defense doctors who make significant incomes testifying against injury victims will be hired to call the victim a liar, cheater, and fraud. The victim will be accused of faking the symptoms, exaggerating the symptoms in order to win money, or of having pre-existing psychiatric problems which are the true cause of the symptoms.
Sometimes these defense hired guns will simply speculate about alternative explanations for the alleged brain injury symptoms. In this day and age in which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the insurance industry have spent a fortune on propaganda campaigns attacking our Constitutional rights to seek redress for harms caused by others, speculative theories from defense hired guns may be enough to win the day for the wrongdoer who caused the crash. Too many jurors believe the propaganda and are quick to ignore the scientific evidence if given the opportunity to blame the victim instead. Victims like Mr. Bradshaw know that no amount of money is worth losing one’s memory, ability to think, or menatal health. And, yet, the "blame the victim and protect the wrongdoer" campaign from the tort reform crowd keeps gaining momentum. This seems contrary to every moral principle we were taught as kids, but it’s exactly where we are headed.
Unfortunately, car crash victims don’t have celebrities speaking out on their behalf. They do, however, have the most powerful lobbying force in history working to strip them of their rights.