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Traumatic Brain Injury: What The Movie "Concussion" Tells Us

Breit Cantor Grana Buckner

"The plaintiff did not suffer any brain injury. She did not lose consciousness. The MRI of her brain was normal. She returned to work. She can drive a car. She walks, talks, and looks perfectly normal. Return a verdict for the defense." This is the defense argument in almost every mild brain injury case.

In the movie Concussion, these defense myths about brain injury are debunked. The football players did not lose consciousness. Indeed, they are shown in the film getting up, dazed, and returning to the huddle. The MRI of the players' brains were normal. The players returned to work. The players were able to drive. The players were able to walk, talk, and looked perfectly normal. Yet, the brain damage they suffered was so significant that as Dr. Omalu, played by Will Smith, said, "They are not the same people - they have become someone else".

The movie shows the devastation suffered by these football players of losing their identities, their families, and finally their lives. The torment of daily headaches, speech impairment, loss of memory, inability to concentrate, anxiety, depression, and suicide suffered by the players is evident throughout the film. These are the very same struggles so many of our brain-damaged clients endure.

The odds are good that some or most of the jurors deciding your next brain injury trial will have seen Concussion. So, when the defense makes the inevitable "it's not real" argument, you as the victim's trial attorney, can point out that these were the same arguments that were made about the NFL players - until they started dying. You might conclude your discussion with the jurors by asking and answering this question: "Will it really take an autopsy to finally prove my client's brain damage? That is what the defense would have you believe. Fortunately, that decision is up to you, not the defense attorney."

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