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NFL embraces technology to help deal with players' head injuries

Although it might not be the industry in which head injuries -- traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), including concussions -- are most prevalent, dissuading any regular viewer of professional football games of that fact might make for a difficult proposition.

Head trauma owes, obviously, to personal injury accidents and mishaps that occur across a wide spectrum of work-related, sports and other activities. Traumatic brain injury has been termed the "signature wound" of combat veterans deployed in the Middle East. TBI episodes are suffered by persons involved in motor vehicle accidents and construction accidents, through acts of medical malpractice that result in surgical errors and birth injuries, and by persons injured while going about their workplace duties.

In the National Football League, though, TBI occurrences are seen by many millions of viewers on a weekly basis in prime time, with it being quite evident that league officials are aware of the problem and trying desperately to do something about it.

New rules have been enacted. Penalties for head hits are severe and being routinely enforced. Players must now be cleared by a doctor to return to games after suffering a concussive head blow.

And now the league is embracing a new tool in its efforts to gain control over its most obvious problem, namely, the employment of a comprehensive electronic health records (EHR) system to better track players' head injuries and assist medical professionals who are treating them.

Saying that, "We've always embraced technology," a league spokesperson announced earlier this month a contract executed with a digital technology company that will create a uniform, seamless and comprehensive EHR system for all 32 teams by 2014.

As envisioned, the new system will supplant paper records, be completely transportable, contain every player's medical history, and be available electronically to doctors, pharmacies, laboratories and all other medical providers providing care in a given case.

If you or a family member has suffered a head wound or brain injury through the negligence of another party, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.

Source: Medpage today, "NFL adopts EHR," Shefali S. Kulkarni, Nov. 20, 2012

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