Apparently a number of former football players such as Tony Dorsett of Dallas Cowboys fame (1977-1988) have decided to bring suit against the National Football League and helmetÂ maker Riddell for injuries sustained while playing professional football.
These men believe that they have suffered disabilities stemming from head concussions that could and should have been avoided. This demonstrates a problem we see throughout the field of medicine. It relates toÂ an issue weÂ physicians refer to as theÂ “standard of care.”
Medicine is far from being an exact scienceÂ and standards of care change rapidly as new research is performed and cutting edge information is learned almost daily.Â I believe that this lawsuit is poorly founded.
Quoting a recent articleÂ published in the American Family Phyisician journal describes the problem quite well: Concussion can be difficult to recognize, complicated by the lack of a universalÂ definition. Additionally, there are no direct objective measures for diagnosis or recovery, no treatments with well-documented effectiveness, and limited empiric prospective data to guide return-to-play decisions.
How canÂ the NFL or Riddell be held responsible for injuries that may have been sustained more than 20 years ago when we can’t even define what a concussion really is, give recommendations on how to treat it, or still decide when an injured athlete should return to playÂ more than two decades later.
It would be unfair to hold these entities responsible for standards of care used today when these men played in another century.