NFL Settlement Payments For ALS, Parkinson's Higher Than Expected
The number of former NFLers diagnosed with Parkinson's or ALS who have "applied for and received payments under the NFL's concussion settlement is significantly larger than projected, raising the possibility" that football players may be "at greater risk of developing the neurodegenerative diseases than previously believed," according to a front-page piece by Patrick Hruby of the L.A. TIMES. In the 18 months since the settlement went into effect, 113 Parkinson's and 42 ALS claims were "filed by former players or their representatives." Of those, 81 Parkinson's and 30 ALS claims worth a combined $146.5M have either been "paid or approved." These figures "dwarf projections" which estimated that 14 Parkinson's and 18 ALS claims worth a combined $52.6M would be "paid over the 65-year duration of the settlement." A report commissioned by the NFL "predicted 31 paid ALS claims over the settlement's lifespan." The report "did not provide specific numbers for Parkinson's." Though research has "established a link between brain injury and increased Parkinson's risk" -- as well as a possible link between playing in the NFL and increased ALS risk -- there is "no consensus within the scientific community about how repetitive head trauma contributes to movement disorders." Most of the ongoing "national conversation" about brain damage in football has "focused on research connecting the sport to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, other dementias, and CTE." So far, the settlement has "paid or approved payment for 67 CTE death claims" worth more than $84.5M, which is also "higher than anticipated" (L.A. TIMES, 8/8).
NEW RESEARCH: In Buffalo, Sam Ogozalek reported a team of Univ. at Buffalo researchers "found no signs of dementia" after "examining 21 retired Bills and Sabres players." The researchers said that their evidence shows that, for some pro athletes, the risk of developing CTE is "not as great as once believed." Ogozalek noted the researchers do not "dispute the existence of CTE." The UB team said that, based on finding no evidence of early onset dementia in the 21 players, they "do not believe CTE is as dangerous as previously thought." The researchers acknowledge that 21 former players was a "relatively small sample." Despite that, UB Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Barry Willer said that he was "confident of the study's accuracy" (BUFFALONEWS.com, 8/7).