Study of Former NFL Players Plagued With Chronic Headaches

An evaluation of eight retired football pros found that the former players averaged more than 19 headache days per month. Twelve of those 19 days involved migraines, said study author Dr. Frank Conidi, director of the Florida Center for Headache & Sports Neurology in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
“Almost every other day these players are having migraines, and some were actually having them every day,” said Conidi, who is scheduled to present his findings Wednesday at the annual meeting of the American Headache Society in Los Angeles.
The headaches most likely are caused by concussions that the players experienced on the field. The retirees told Conidi that they had experienced more than seven concussions on average during their years of play. The average age of the eight players is 37, and they played an average 4.6 years in the NFL…
Dr. David Dodick, director of the Sport Neurology and Concussion Program at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona…said he also isn’t surprised that the players were not receiving specialized care for their headaches, given that there are only about 400 board-certified headache specialists in the United States.
Concussion-related headaches can affect football players at any age or level of play…”I see kids 12 years old, 13 years old, who have suffered repeat concussions and are disabled with headache,” Dodick said. “This is not confined to professional athletes.”
Dodick said the game could be made safer, with stricter penalties for helmet-to-helmet contact, better detection of concussions during games, and the cultivation of mutual respect between players so they don’t target each other for harm.

Meanwhile, a federal judge has granted preliminary approval to a landmark deal that would compensate thousands of former NFL players for concussion-related claims. The settlement is (also) designed to…cover retirees who develop Lou Gehrig’s disease and other neurological problems.

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