School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

SOM to host congressional hearing on football head injuries

The Wayne State University School of Medicine will host a congressional hearing on head and brain injuries suffered by football players at all levels of play, from high school to the National Football League.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) scheduled the Jan. 4 hearing, titled “Legal Issues Relating to Football Head Injuries, Part II.” The session is a follow-up to the committee’s Oct. 28 hearing, which examined the NFL’s policies concerning player concussions and the league’s treatment of research involving head and brain injuries. The Detroit hearing, which will include testimony from a School of Medicine neurologist, is expected to revolve around potential improvements to concussion policies.

“Recent scientific research has raised concerns about repetitive mild traumatic brain injuries and concussions and their impact for those playing football and other contact sports,” Conyers said. “The Judiciary Committee’s hearing at Wayne State University, where experts have been analyzing this issue, will examine whether players and families have adequate information about head injuries and whether sufficient steps are being taken to protect players at all competitive levels.”

Congressional members scheduled to take part in the hearing, in addition to Conyers, include U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas).

Witnesses scheduled to testify include DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association; David Klossner, director of Health and Safety for the National Collegiate Athletic Association; Bennet Omalu, co-director of the Brain Injury Research Institute at West Virginia University and a key researcher of brain damage in football players; Ira Casson, a neurologist and former co-chairman of the NFL committee on concussions who resigned that position last month; Randall Benson, M.D., assistant professor of Neurology for the Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Wayne State University Physician Group; and Chris Nowinski, president of the Sports Legacy Institute.

The hearing, which is open to the public, will begin at 1 p.m. in the Margherio Family Conference Center, located in the Richard J. Mazurek, M.D., Medical Education Commons, 540 E. Canfield.

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