These were the last words that former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler uttered before his death last July at age 69. Now, according to a brain autopsy performed at his request, doctors know that a serious brain injury may have caused that fatigue.
Following a seven-month investigation, researchers determined that Mr. Stabler was suffering from Stage 3 Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a diagnosis that helps his family understand why his mind seemed to slip away in his later years. Mr. Stabler was one of the first quarterbacks diagnosed with CTE, suggesting that all players in contact sports are at risk for developing the disease. Scientists believe that repetitive blows to the head cause the degenerative condition, though other factors may play a part as well.
The free-spirited Ken Stabler won the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player award in 1974 and captained the renegade Raiders to their first world title two years later.
Traumatic Brain Injury
A staggering 52,000 people per year die from a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, and about 1.7 million are rushed to the emergency room. Adolescents between 15 and 19, as well as adults over 65, are the most at-risk age groups.
That latter statistic helps explain why TBIs are so common in car crashes, even if the occupants are wearing seatbelts. The still-forming brain of an adolescent, and the frail head of a senior citizen, are extremely vulnerable to injury.
TBIs are sometimes not diagnosed straightaway, because the symptoms mimic shock and other conditions. Some signs of TBIs include:
Coma: As a rule of thumb, the longer a victim is unconscious, the more serious the brain injury becomes.
Mood Swings: These and other dementia-like symptoms make it difficult to focus at work and even carry on normal activities.
Partial Paralysis: If a part of the brain is injured, the area of the body it controls often does not function properly, if at all.
If brain cells die, they do not regenerate, so a TBI is always permanent, at least to some extent. Therefore, the economic and noneconomic damages in these cases are often substantial. Punitive damages are also available in some cases.
A brain injury has lifelong physical, financial, and emotional consequences. For a free consultation with an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney, contact our office. We do not charge upfront legal fees in a personal injury case.