When the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety publicly recognized the link between concussions and CTE, it seemed that the last hold-out against the two’s correlation had finally conceded that battle. After, all, no one had as much to lose from the discovery as the NFL, so with the league’s public acknowledgement the matter was considered settled.
Until NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke out this week. He claimed, “The science regarding CTE, including on the asserted ‘link’ to concussions . . . remains nascent, particularly with respect to what causes CTE.” He went on to claim that a link between concussions and CTE “has not been demonstrated” and that the relationship between the two “remains unknown.”
His 24-page statement was a response to Senator Richard Blumenthal, who had questioned him about long-term head injury dangers. His choice of words may have influenced somewhat by the lawsuit that 105 former NHL players have filed against the league.
He’s reopened a debate that seemed more or less closed, rehashing old arguments that the NFL staunchly defended for years before changing its tune in March. His remarks represent a step back in the dialogue, but what we really need is forward movement in the prevention, detection, and treatment of both concussions and CTE. Our energy should be focused on solving the problems that concussions present; arguing about whether they exist does nothing but drag us backward.
*Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.