A Surprising New Front in the Struggle Against Traumatic Brain Injuries

A surprising – and heartening – article in the sports section of the New York Times last week revealed that heightened awareness of the serious nature of sports-related concussions and other traumatic brain injuries has turned up in an unexpected forum: video games.

The paper reports that “Madden NFL 12, the coming version of the eerily true-to-life NFL video game played by millions of gamers, will be realistic enough not only to show players receiving concussions, but also to show any player who sustains one being sidelined for the rest of the game – no exceptions.”
Considering the extent of the criticism being weathered by the real-life NFL over head injury issues and the long term health of the league’s players, this development can only be called striking. The article quotes John Madden himself saying that the change in the game’s format was driven partly by the desire for ever-greater realism, but also from a belief that children need to understand how serious a matter concussions can be. “We want that message to be strong,” Madden told the Times.

With parents more focused than ever on safety in school sports this is an important development. Here in Oregon we have seen a rise in concern over head and spinal cord injuries, particularly among football players. As Madden highlights in his interview, children develop their attitudes toward the game – and how it should be played – at an early age. Anything that helps reinforce a message of on-field safety should be welcomed.

In the final analysis, it should be schools and coaches, parents and players who serve as the main defense against Oregon head injuries on the athletic field. When the issue reaches the office of a Portland personal injury lawyer that is a sign, frankly, that the rest of the system has failed. Lawyers and courts play an important role in ensuring that justice is done, but their responsibilities come into play only to right wrongs that arise elsewhere.

New York Times: Madden Puts Concussions in New Light in His Game