Critics of 2008 concussion study failed to note NFL ties

Jama neurWhen a 2008 paper proposed that athletes be kept out of play for four weeks following a concussion, three doctors wrote in to say that the recommendations were “irrelevant and ill advised.” One thing the trio failed to disclose, however, was their own financial ties to the National Football League.

With the release of the 2013 Frontline documentary “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis” and the publication of Concussion by journalist Jeanne-Marie Laskas, the evidence is growing that the NFL — with the help of doctors working as paid consultants or expert witnesses for the NFL or individual teams  — has downplayed the potential of football to cause long-term brain injuries.

In a 2008, Lester Mayers of Pace University in Pleasantville, New York, published a review paper in Archives of Neurology (now JAMA Neurology), that summarized evidence from tests such as balance and gait testing, along with MRI and PET imaging studies. Mayers, who is now deceased, concluded in “Return-to-Play Criteria After Athletic Concussion: A Need for Revision” that it takes at least four weeks — rather than one or two — for the brain to heal following a concussion:

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