A week ago Sunday, Ben Roethlisberger sustained his third concussion, two from football and one from his near fatal motorcycle crash. Fortunately for Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh has one of the leading concussion management teams in the world headed by neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon and consultants Drs. Mark Lovell and Micky Collins.
Unfortunately, despite this state-of-the-art concussion management care, Steeler coach Mike Tomlin was quoted as saying “He is not permanently injured or scarred at this point – he just has a concussion.”
In an excellent New York Times article published on January 1, 2009 entitled “Roethlisberger’s Injury Highlights Nerve Center for Head Trauma,” Sean Hamill noted that “Several concussion experts, including the former Steelers’ doctor, Julian Bailes, bristled at Tomlin’s remarks. They said that concussions could not be deemed fully healed for at least two or three days and that Tomlin’s immediate, public optimism- while not uncommon – misrepresented the seriousness of brain injuries.”
Dr. Bailes, chairman of Neurosurgery at West Virginia University School of Medicine, was quoted as saying:
“Research has shown that symptoms and manifestations of concussion can become apparent days later and are not always apparent immediately following the injury. Why the rush to judgment? I think it’s a disservice to the science. If the public doesn’t realize – players, coaches, parents, trainers, fans – that concussions can have later manifestations, it can present a real danger.”
For neuroattorneys, this represents an important and significant statement. For years, defense doctors and their attorneys have been arguing that a plaintiff could not have sustained a concussion if there is an absence of complaints when the patient is taken to the emergency room. This statement by Dr. Bailes clearly contradicts this myth that has existed far too long. I congratulate Dr. Bailes for this important comment.