Hard-hitting film tackles concussion head-on
A hard-hitting new Hollywood film set to open in the UK on 12 February shows just how far sport has come in tackling the issue of concussion, according to leading brain injury charity Headway.
Concussion, starring Will Smith, is based on the true story of forensic pathologist Dr Bennet Omalu who identified a pattern of neurological deterioration in the brains of former NFL footballers in the USA.
While conducting an autopsy on former American Footballer Mike Webster, Dr Omalu identified that the player has been suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) – a progressive degenerative neurological disease associated with repeated blows to the head.
After publishing his findings in a medical journey, Dr Omalu began campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of repeated head injuries. The film charts his battles with the NFL, which not only denied the sport had a problem, but also sought to discredit the researcher and his findings.
“The fact that Hollywood has made a film about concussion in sport shows just how big an issue it has become,” said Luke Griggs, Director of Communications at Headway.
“Dr Omalu’s research was a shock to the system of one of the most powerful sporting organisations in the world. While the NFL initially tried to play down the findings for fear that it might damage the sport’s reputation, an eventual $1billion settlement to former players, along with contributions to concussion research across the world, shows that the sport is now taking the issue very seriously indeed.
“Over the past few years, Headway has been at the heart of efforts to raise awareness of concussion in sport here in the UK as a result of our If in doubt, sit it out! campaign and regular commentary in the national press.
“Significant progress has been made, with several sports introducing new protocols to protect players in the immediate aftermath of suffering a concussion while providing guidance on when it is safe to return to training and playing.
“We cannot afford to be complacent with the issue of concussion in sport and it is clear that much more needs to be done in the UK to avoid making the same mistakes as the NFL.
“You can never be sure whether or not a Hollywood film will provide an accurate representation of a true story, but it can only be positive that concussion is on the big screen.”