Ted Johnson, who helped the Patriots win three Super Bowl titles before retiring, told the New York Times that a collision with another player during a practice in 2002 led to a serious concussion, and after additional concussions over the next three seasons, he now forgets people’s names, misses appointments and suffers from depression and an addiction to amphetamines.
Johnson, who played for 10 years in the NFL, said he began to deteriorate in 2002 with a concussion during an exhibition game against the Giants. Four days later, he sustained another concussion. Over the next few years, he sustained even more.
Dr. Robert Cantus, his current neurologist, told the Times he was certain that Johnson’s problems “are related to his previous head injuries, as they are all rather classic post-concussion symptoms…They are most likely permanent.”
“Looking back, it was stupid not to tell anyone,” says Johnson. “But I didn’t know then that every time you have a concussion, you are four to six times more susceptible the next time. I had no idea the damage I was causing myself.”
As Dan Amen says, “Our brains are soft, about the consistency of soft butter. Our skulls are very hard and has sharp ridges. Banging our brains into our skulls causes damage and impairs brain function.”
We can, to some extent, repair or increase the functionality of our brains. Selected supplements and medicines can sometimes help; but certain damage issues can result in lifelong impairment.
The University of Pittsburg Medical School has developed an Impact test to determine when it is safe to get back onto the football field. Many colleges and even high schools utilize this test.
Our health is our choice. The pressure to perform for the pleasure of others to the detriment of our own health may not be a good long term choice. It’s hard to listen to that advice when the smell of victory and glory are close at hand. Victors from wars have suffered for the good of their country. Football players suffer for the good of their endorsers and audience.
All professions have risks and benefits. Consider the quality of your life as a whole, and you can better evaluate the risks of your present circumstances.