Roskamp Institute Articles Better Science. Real Discovery.

April 13, 2012

Roskamp Institute Researcher to Discuss Traumatic Brain Injuries With Player, Filmmaker After April 19 Screening

SARASOTA, FL – As the National Football League takes steps to reduce concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), a new film being premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival tells the tragic personal story of NFL star Kevin Turner.  After an eight-year career with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, Kevin Turner now suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal nervous system condition also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“Kevin is a gentle but broken man of 42, a football superstar forced to reflect on the price he is paying for his glory years,” said filmmaker Jon Frankel in advance of the April 19 world premier of his movie “American Man” at the Opera House. “In the decade since he retired, Kevin lost his job, his money, his marriage and even, he thinks, his mind.”
Following the April 19 premiere, Dr. Fiona Crawford, associate director of The Roskamp Institute, will join Turner and Frankel for a panel discussion of the latest research into the long-term impact of multiple head injuries.  “We have been modeling repetitive head injury in our Sarasota laboratory, and found there is a significant difference in terms of behavior and pathology compared with a single injury,” said Crawford, whose findings were presented at a recent meeting of the International Brain Injury Association in Scotland. “There are cognitive deficits with the repetitive injury, but no obvious deficits after 12 months with a single injury,” said Crawford.

Frankel, a correspondent for HBO-REAL Sports, shot the film about Turner’s life from August 2010 to fall 2011.  “He has lost considerable use of his hands and arms but still drives,” he said. “The disease has not hit his legs yet. He is beginning to have a little more trouble talking.  But he still sounds pretty darn good since being diagnosed two years ago.”

Turner was drafted by the Patriots as a fullback in 1992, joined Philadelphia three years later and ended his playing career in 1999. He believes the multiple concussions and head injuries from football led to the onset of ALS.  Turner is believed to be the 14th former NFL player diagnosed with ALS since 1960, a rate twice as likely than someone not suffering from repeated concussions.

In recent years, the NFL has tightened its rules regarding helmet-to-helmet “hits” and how quickly a player can return to the game after suffering a concussion. The spring, the NFL severely disciplined the New Orleans Saints for running a bounty system that rewarded team members who injured opposing players.

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For tickets to the AMERICAN MAN film premiere:

Date: Thursday, April 19, 2012

Where:  Sarasota Opera House

Time: VIP Reception to Benefit The Roskamp Institute begins 6pm

Screening at 7:30pm, Panel discussion immediately follows

The Roskamp Institute is a scientific research facility devoted to understanding causes and finding cures for neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.  The Institute utilizes a broad range of scientific approaches to understanding the causes of – and potential therapies for – these disorders with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease.

The Institute is located in Sarasota, Florida where it operates a memory clinic.

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