I was about to query the National Institutes of Health for more details on the $30 million grant it received this week from the National Football League. But yesterday I learned that George Visger, whom I’m proud to call a Concussion Inc. author and a friend, had beaten me to the punch.
You all should know Visger, but if you don’t, read the synopsis below in his own words. You can order his short ebook autobiography, OUT OF MY HEAD: My Life In and Out of Football on Amazon Kindle at this link: http://amzn.to/znZuiL.
You also can view George’s resume at this link: http://muchnick.net/visgerresume.pdf. He’s a wildlife biologist and he could use a job. Lately times have gotten very hard again and he is all but living out of the Sacramento Hyberbaric Oxygen Clinic, where treatments alleviate the issues with which he has struggled throughout his 20s, 30s, 40s, and now 50s. These include short-term memory loss that make him like that guy in the cult movie classic, Memento – reduced to writing compulsive notes to himself to stay on top of the simplest things. Which he does … and a lot more. George Visger is an amazing human being.
Though many retired NFL players suffer from depression, perhaps nothing is more depressing – or less surprising – than the fact that George, unlike anyone in the professional news media, has the moxie to suggest the $30 million question raised by the NFL’s partnership with NIH: Why is the private corporation tail wagging the federal government public-health infrastructure dog?
More on that in my next post.
[George’s email Wednesday to Dr. Stephanie James, acting executive director and CEO of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health]
I’m very glad the NFL has donated $30M to your foundation, but I’m very concerned.
I developed hydrocephalus and underwent emergency VP shunt brain surgery during the 81 Super Bowl season at age 22, several weeks after my first knee surgery. I had suffered a major concussion during the prior 1980 season (see KRON 4 link to view the concussion hit below). Several days after the game, when my memory returned, I was laughingly told by the trainers that the team doctor had given me over 20 smelling salts during the game to keep me on the field. I never missed a play or practice.
Four months after we won Super Bowl XVI in January of 1982, my shunt failed and I had two more brain surgeries 10 hrs apart and was given last rites. I was also given the hospital bills. I fought creditors for nearly 5 years till I was forced to successfully sue for Workers Comp just to get my bills paid. During that 5 year battle, I underwent 2 additional knee surgeries, including a GoreTex ACL transplant, to repair what the 49ers surgeon neglected to repair properly. Thank God I won my case. I’m now on brain surgery #9, still don’t qualify for NFL benefits, and continue to battle tooth and nail to access medical treatment for my NFL caused injuries.
Please keep in mind the NFL is in a very tight place right now. Over 3,000 former players are currently suing over traumatic brain injuries, and resultant ALS, CTE etc, as none of us qualify for head injury benefits. It’s sad, but their $30M donating is all a PR stunt.
I pray to God you use their donation to help other families avoid what the Ray Easterlings, Dave Duersons, Jr Seaus (and my own) families have had to endure. It has been a 31 year and counting nightmare for my family.
Please feel free to call on me if The Visger Group can assist you in your work. As a biologist and TBI consultant, I have compiled 31 years of data, 24/7 since my injury. I have owned an environmental consulting business since 2003, and my company is now totally focused on TBI issues. Earlier this year I was presented an award on the CA Senate Floor for my work with TBI, and in April of this year I was presented the TBI Survivor Volunteer Of The Year Award by the Brain Injury Association of California at their annual conference.
Due to major short term memory deficits, I have literally logged every day of my life the last 22+ years, and offer myself and my data to your study. Please let me know how we can help. Thousands of young players and their families coming up through the football ranks have no idea the price they will pay for the rest of their lives.
On a positive note, since I began my recovery program of hyperbaric oxygen treatments, mega doses of Omega 3 fish oils, and concentrated natural antioxidants (cranberry, blueberry, Acai extracts), in Dec, 2009, my micro cognitive memory exams have improved 14.7%, and ALL of my neuro cognitive scores have improved. In addition, my anger management issues have completely subsided and my insomnia has improved.
KRON4 News in San Francisco …http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZpnI6W2 Sg – 114k – Cached – April 18, 2012 … George Visger, author of the ebook “OUT OF MY HEAD: My Life In and Out of Football” (January 2012), was featured in this report on KRON4 …
Video interview Stockton Record
NPR: A Brain, A Life, Battered by Football
SF 49ers 80 & 81
Survivor of 9 NFL Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits
[reply email from Kimberly O’Sullivan, communications officer of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health]
Dear Mr. Visger,
Thank you for contacting the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and letting us know of your concerns.
The $30 million donation from the National Football League is hopefully just the beginning of additional funding to support medical research of traumatic brain injuries, concussions and other medical conditions that not only affect athletes but also the general public, including members of our armed forces. FNIH will reach out to other potentially interested organizations to determine whether they wish to join this collaboration.
At this time the research project(s) the initial $30 million donation will support remain to be determined. I want to assure you that the agreement with the NFL ensures that the NIH will be completely in control of the research activities and research results, and the work will be conducted under NIH’s normal and highly respected granting mechanisms. Thus, we feel confident that the work will be of the highest caliber.
We greatly appreciate your offer of help. When there is a more defined research plan in place I will forward along your information to the appropriate institute of the NIH.