The Uncomfortable Truth about Brain Injury
The truth is sometimes hard to hear – especially when it goes against popular thought, or against the heroes of our culture. Speaking the truth in those situations can be uncomfortable and even dangerous. Uncomfortable truth is the story of Concussion, the movie about Dr Bennet Omalu. As the coroner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he had the opportunity to autopsy several NFL football players who had committed suicide. Dr Omalu came to the conclusion that their repetitive, sport-related brain injuries were causing depression, hallucinations, aggression, mental illness, and eventually death by suicide. Of course, this was a very unpopular discovery. Dr Omalu had to face censure and condemnation for his findings. But the truth is still the truth. Eventually scientific evidence proved a correlation between football and brain injury. At one point in the movie, Dr Omalu begs a NFL doctor to just “tell the truth”. Dr Omalu wasn’t looking for personal gain or remuneration; he just wanted the truth about brain injury to be told.
What is the truth about brain injury? The truth is that 90% of brain injury is preventable… that sports related injuries account for a significant amount of total injuries and that repetitive brain injuries have a cumulative effect. It is also the truth that brain injuries and concussions in children can have lifelong consequences.
So if we know that this is the truth, the question needs to be asked: why are parents still encouraging their children to play violent sports? Why are we not, as a society, protecting the brains and livelihoods of our most precious resource?
The movie ends with Dr Omalu watching a local high school team practicing football… as their helmets crash together, the pain in his eyes is evident. Tell them the truth.