Sports medicine expert witnesses are experienced in sports medicine treatments and protocols. They are trained to consult and offer testimony regarding brain trauma and the symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease of the brain. Symptoms of CTE include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, paranoia, impulse control problems, depression, and eventually progressive dementia.
Sports that require physical contact often result in powerful blows to the head. According to the Sports Journal, published by the United States Sports Academy, concussion injuries impact approximately 1.7 million Americans annually.
The culmination of concussion injuries from youth sports to retired professional athletes has accelerated unprecedented litigation, regulation, and legislative activities. The heightened awareness on the dangers and consequences of concussion trauma has caused sports governing bodies, state legislatures, and federal congressional intervention to enact regulation and legislation to promote the safety of sports participants. Based on recent legal activity to implement concussion and return-to-play guidelines, sports concussion awareness has risen to national attention.
In 2014, the NCAA agreed to provide $70M for concussion testing and diagnosis of current and former NCAA student athletes as part of a settlement in a concussion class action lawsuit. The settlement includes return-to-play guidelines:
Baseline concussion testing of NCAA student-athletes.
Student-athletes with a diagnosed concussion will not be allowed to return to play or practice on the same day, and must be cleared by a physician.
Medical personnel with training in the diagnosis, treatment and management of concussions must be present for all games and available during all practices.
Establish a process for schools to report diagnosed concussions and their resolution.
In March, NFL Senior Vice President Jeff Miller acknowledged that there is a connection between football concussions and CTE. Miller appeared before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.