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Central Standard

Concussions And Head Trauma In Contact Sports

Monicas Dad
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Several cases have been popping up in the news in which former NFL players are suing either the league, or their team organization, for injuries or disorders they have developed after retiring. They claim that the professional organizations that used to employ them are responsible for the health problems they are now experience.

Many of these hard-hitting sports result in players with broken bones, muscle damage, and concussions. The concussions, if left untreated, can result in even more serious damage if the player gets hit in the head again. Dr. Barbara Semakula, Sports Rehabilitation Director at KU Med affirms that the best treatment after a concussion is to avoid further concussions. 

Credit Bill Anderson / KCUR
Conrad Dobler (left) and Dr. Barbara Semakula (right) join Central Standard. Dobler sports a sling as he recently had shoulder surgery.

Unfortunately, many players are afraid that if they are diagnosed with an injury, they will miss playing time, or even lose their jobs or scholarships. Conrad Dobler, a former NFL player, says the word 'concussion' was never used in his ten years playing for the NFL, but rather they would say someone was 'fuzzy.' 

Dobler has undergone 32 knee surgeries and one shoulder surgery since playing in the NFL.

"I used to be able to repeat verbatim what I read in the newspaper, now I have to check my phone just to know what day it is," says Dobler. 

Dobler was named the "Football's Dirtiest Player" in 1977 for his behavior on the field, but he now fights for the players that he used to try and hurt.

Dr. Barbara Semakula advises that players who show symptoms of a concussion (dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light, increased headaches) should seek medical help and stay out of the game until they have received treatment. She affirms that a player can take an active approach to treatment, and they won't have to stay on the sidelines forever. 


  • Conrad Dobler, former NFL player for the Saint Louis Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, and Buffalo Bills.
  • Dr. Barbara Semakula, Sports Rehabilitation Director and Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas Hospital


Central Standard footballconcussion
As a host and contributor at KCUR, I seek to create a more informed citizenry and richer community. I want to enlighten and inspire our audience by delivering the information they need with accuracy and urgency, clarifying what’s complicated and teasing out the complexities of what seems simple. I work to craft conversations that reveal realities in our midst and model civil discourse in a divided world. Follow me on Twitter @ptsbrian or email me at brian@kcur.org.
Matthew Long-Middleton has been a talk-show producer, community producer, Media Training Manager and now the Community Engagement Manager at KCUR. You can reach him at Matthew@kcur.org, or on Twitter @MLMIndustries.