• Concussions and sports: 'For years we ignored this injury'

    By: Dave Huddleston

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - Former football players at Georgia and other universities are suing the National Collegiate Athletic Association and their former conferences over how their concussions were treated. 

    The lawsuits claim they suffer from memory loss and dementia after suffering multiple concussions.

    They want money to help pay their medical expenses.

    “Knowing what I know today, I would not play football."

    IMPACT ON PLAYERS

    Former Ohio State University cornerback Ray Griffin is best remembered for his interception during the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry game in 1975. 

    But the glory on the football field came at a price. 

    During his time at OSU, Griffin told Channel 2 Action News he suffered multiple concussions.

    “You’ve got extremely bad headaches. You go into the bright sun and it hurts,” Griffin said. 

    Those concussions took a toll on Griffin.


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    He says they caused him to suffer from depression, anxiety and short-term memory loss. 

    “But I did not know that I was causing damage to my brain. And that damage is long-term and it’s chronic,” Griffin said.

    Griffin and dozens of other former college players have filed lawsuits against the NCAA. 

    Former University of Georgia football player Ron Hermann also has filed a lawsuit claiming he suffered numerous concussions that caused memory loss.

    Former University of Georgia football player Ron Hermann has filed a lawsuit claiming he suffered numerous concussions that caused memory loss.
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    DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT

    Concussions are so common, Gwinnett Medical Center started the Concussion Institute to diagnose and treat them. 

    Concussions result from a hit to the head or body that causes the brain to move.

    Dr. Adam Shunk, a clinical neural psychologist at the Concussion Institute, said symptoms may include headache, dizziness and nausea. 

    Concussions can also affect your memory, plus make it harder to sleep and concentrate. 

    He says the time right after the injury is critical. 

    “One of the most important things to understand with concussion is it’s dangerous right after you have an injury because your brain is trying to heal itself and it’s vulnerable during that time,” Shunk said. 

    He said the key is giving the brain and body a chance to heal. 

    “The best treatment we have is rest. And that’s what the brain needs, kind of like when you’re recovering from a flu,” Shunk said.

    The Concussion Institute works with local schools to make sure there is someone on the sidelines to check out players for concussions. 

    “One of the main missions of our hospital is to provide athletic trainers for all the high schools in the area so those athletes are protected,” Shunk said. 

    Physical therapists at the Concussion Institute work with athletes by having them throw balls and run on the treadmill to monitor their recovery and make sure it’s safe for them to return to the playing field. 

    Shunk said in most cases, recovery takes seven to 10 days.

    MOVING FORWARD

    Griffin’s body did not get enough time to heal. 

    “Knowing what I know today, I would not play football,” Griffin said. 

    He hopes his lawsuit will help him pay his medical bills and send a message. 

    "Players should be aware of the situation that they're getting in. They should be able to make the choice to whether or not they want that for themselves or not," Griffin said.

    Shunk said you can reduce the risk of concussion by wearing good quality protective equipment when playing sports. 

    He also said you should wear a helmet that fits well when riding a bicycle.

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