EXCLUSIVE: 1975 ‘Lancet’ Article Yet Another Smoking Gun in Football Concussion Saga

‘Sports Concussion Crisis a Culture-Wide Problem – Maybe a Post-Ideological One, Too’ … today at Beyond Chron
August 8, 2011
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The new lawsuit by scores of retired players alleging a cover-up by the National Football League of medical research on the magnitude of the concussion problem includes a chronology familiar to students of this issue. It goes like this:

  • Something very much like what would become known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy was discovered in boxers as far back as the 1920s.
  • Dr. Bennet Omalu named and defined CTE in a cohort of deceased football players beginning in 2002.
  • NFL researchers denied and manipulated public understanding of multiple-concussion syndrome from the time of the formation of a panel of league experts in 1994, and through articles in the last decade, chiefly in the journal Neurosurgery. These were authored by doctors with blatant conflicts of interest, and edited with shockingly lax academic standards.

Now comes a new piece of the puzzle: discovery of a 1975 article in the journal The Lancet, entitled “Cumulative Effect of Concussion.” Historically, The Lancet is rivaled only by the Journal of the American Medical Association as the most widely quoted source in all of clinical literature. It does not seem credible that such findings could have escaped the close attention of the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee.

The article in the 22 November 1975 issue of The Lancet was co-authored by Drs. Dorothy Gronwall and Philip Wrightson of the neurosurgery department at Auckland Hospital in New Zealand. From a study of 20 young adults following second concussions, the doctors concluded:

The effects of concussion seem to be cumulative, and this has important implications for sports where concussion injury is common.”

In a separate article published a year earlier in The Lancet, Gronwall and Wrightson had further stated:

“[Time taken to recover from an uncomplicated concussion] is usually less than thirty-five days. Patients with post-concussion symptoms, who complain of inability to carry out normal work, poor concentration, fatigue, irritability, and headache, show a reduction of information-processing rate which is inappropriate to the time elapsed since injury and which persists beyond the usual period of thirty-five days.”

I was tipped to the Gronwall-Wrightson research by Don Brady, a psychologist in upstate New York who has done his own important but little-noticed research on concussion history. His website is http://donbrady.com.


Irv Muchnick

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  1. […] August 8th, Irv Muchnick posted on Concussion Inc. an exclusive story about the possible “smoking gun” that the plaintiffs (former NFL players) now have in their […]

Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick