Meet the Lawyer Who Is Battling Concussions in Football on the Front Lines

Concussions have been a big topic in football in recent years because of the damage they can do to a person’s mental capacities, especially when somebody suffers multiple concussions in their lives. While the NFL is usually at the center of any discussion of concussions in football, it’s not the only pigskin organization that has to deal with the condition.

The NCAA is also facing legal action regarding concussions, and there’s one lawyer in particular who is doing what he can to battle the scourge of concussions on the gridiron.

Jason Luckasevic is fighting football leagues in court

You may not know his name, but lawyer Jason Luckasevic has been at the center of NFL concussion lawsuits, as profiled by Sports Illustrated. He was the first attorney to sue the league over head injuries suffered by players.

That led to a massive class-action settlement that he referred to as being a “debacle.” But Luckasevic didn’t stop there.

After taking on the NFL, he turned his attention to the NCAA and is taking on college football’s governing body on what he calls a “case by case by case” basis in state courts across the country, rather than going the class-action route as he did with the NFL, which legal experts say is a risky way of doing it because “the lawsuits will be expensive, time-consuming,” and difficult to win.

How concussions have impacted football

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Concussions have impacted the sport in many ways, including leading to rule changes in an effort to reduce the frequency that players are afflicted by concussions.

The NFL, in particular, has adjusted kickoff rules to minimize the chances of there being big hits between opposing players, and there is speculation that kickoffs could be eliminated entirely in the future.

Concussions have also led to some players retiring earlier than they otherwise would have, either because of concussions affecting their health too much or as a precautionary measure for pleasures who are worried about suffering concussions. 

One example of a player retiring early due to concussions is former Panthers LB Luke Kuechly, who retired this offseason at the age of 28, which ABC News wrote about.

In the video announcing his retirement, Kuechly didn’t specifically mention concussions as being a trigger for his decision, but he had suffered three known concussions and it was believed among fans and analysts that the concussions were a major reason why Kuechly reached the decision that he did.

The mystery surrounding concussions

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Concussions are dangerous because anything that can affect the function of a person’s brain is to be feared, and one thing that is scary about concussions is that we still don’t much about them, according to The Week.

One thing we don’t know about concussions is how frequently they occur. Each instance of a concussion isn’t tracked at the national level, as is the case for other health issues, and it is believed that concussions are often underreported with possible misdiagnoses when someone suffers a concussion.

It can be difficult to diagnose because there is no test available that can conclusively show if a concussion has occurred, and symptoms can vary significantly from one person to the next. Those are some factors that cause the concussion to be called the “invisible injury.” 

It is believed that a chemical imbalance leads to brain dysfunction in the wake of someone having a concussion, but doctors don’t fully understand what is going on with that chemical imbalance.

Dr. Greg Hawryluk, a neurosurgeon at the University of Utah Healthcare, says that “in some senses, we’re sort of at square one with concussions.” While we understand how significant it is, he says “there’s an awful lot more work to do to figure out what’s going on.”