View Full Version : Study links NFL concussions, depression

06-03-2007, 01:36 AM

By Scott Brown
Friday, June 1, 2007

Troy Polamalu falls into the category that, according to a new study, puts him much more at risk of depression.

A study of more than 2,500 retired NFL players found that those who have had at least three concussions are three times as likely to experience clinical depression than someone who has never had a concussion.

But Polamalu, who said he has had three concussions, doesn't worry about the long-term ramifications of his concussions or the findings that were published Thursday by the American College of Sports Medicine.

"To me, I think something like depression isn't something physical," the Steelers' Pro Bowl safety said. "I think there are some physical mental diseases, but I don't think depression is. To me, I think these can be spiritual illnesses sometimes."

Dr. Julian Bailes, a former Steelers team doctor and one of the authors of the study, said three or more concussions put someone at risk for developing mild cognitive impairment, which makes them more susceptible to dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

He said the latest findings by the University of North Carolina's Center for the Study of Retired Athletes show that those who have suffered at least three concussions also significantly increase the chances that they will experience depression.

"We think it's interesting," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "But it does not prove anything, and we want to know more. And that's why we are spending close to $2 million on a study of concussions on our retired players."

The issue of concussions and the effect they have on a player's life after football have generated a lot of attention, especially in the aftermath of Andre Waters' suicide and Ted Johnson's revelations that he has battled mental problems since 2002.

Waters, a former Eagles safety, had his brain damaged by concussions, according to a forensic pathologist, and killed himself last November.

The 34-year-old Johnson, a former Patriots linebacker, shows early signs of Alzheimer's, The Boston Globe and The New York Times reported in February.

The league is considering a whistle-blower program to keep team officials from pushing players to play too soon after concussions, and commissioner Roger Goodell has ordered all 32 teams to send their doctors and trainers to a meeting about concussions later this month.

Bailes, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at West Virginia University's School of Medicine, said he will speak at the meeting as well as give a presentation.

He said he is "encouraged by what the commissioner is doing. We want to make the game safer."

But, as Bailes acknowledged, improvements that are made to equipment and precautions that are taken as a result of studies that shed light on the long-term effect of concussions, won't rid concussions from the game.

Steelers guard Kendall Simmons has never had a concussion even though banging helmets during a game is a regular thing for him.

Simmons said he doesn't worry about concussions. If he becomes tentative because of that concern, it hampers his play and makes him more susceptible to getting hurt.

"I'm in the middle of collisions all of the time, so if I try to keep my head out of there, I'm not effective at all," Simmons said, "so I'm pretty much trying to deliver a blow instead of taking one."

Concussions are almost more scary than blowing out a knee IMO. Atleast with a knee you know you can get surgery and get it repaired. It may shorten your NFL career but in most cases you'll still be able to function normally throughout the rest of your life. With multiple concussions you just never know how bad you'll be affected for the rest of your life.

06-03-2007, 05:34 AM
No matter what they come up with to prevent concussions and other head injuries, its still going to happen. Football is a very violent sport and always will be. You would think with all the research and studies the experts have done over the years, the NFL (owners) and players union would have the best possible rehab, disability and retirement programs that anyone could get.

06-03-2007, 09:09 PM
The players realize this too, they know it's part of the deal when you're in the NFL. The more advances in safety equipment the better and hopefully it will lessen the effects and help minimize the injuries, but still these types of injuries are inevitable.

06-07-2007, 03:48 AM
I have to agree with polamalu. depression is caused by personal issues you have, for numerous reasons, not being knocked on the head a few to many times