Category: Research Paper
In Concussion, Will Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian-born pathologist who brought the issue of brain damage in retired NFL players to the forefront.
If you like a little sports drama during the holiday season — and don't feel like watching another Rocky movie — then you may want to catch a showing of Concussion. due out Christmas Day. Starring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu. a Nigerian-born pathologist who brought the issue of brain damage in retired NFL players to the forefront, Concussion is the sort of underdog-stares-down-corporate-behemoth feature that reliably manages to stir up some awards buzz.
The true-life story began unfolding in September 2002 when Omalu, then with the Allegheny County coroner's office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was assigned to perform an autopsy on the body of Mike Webster. Known as "Iron Mike," Webster was a beloved former Pro Bowler with Pittsburgh Steelers, the anchor of a front line that helped the team win four Super Bowls. However, his mental health deteriorated to the point where he was ranting at strangers and zapping himself with a Taser gun, until his death from a heart attack at age 50.
Omalu knew nothing about football but had heard about Webster's death on the news, and was curious as to what the ex-player's brain would reveal about his behavior. After taking the brain home and paying out of pocket to have it carefully dissected and stained, he discovered the presence of tau proteins, which impair moods and cognitive function upon accumulation. It was similar to findings in the brains of deceased boxers but clearly in a category of its own, so Omalu coined the condition "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy," or CTE. He submitted a paper, explaining his discovery and belief that Webster's troubles were the result of repeated head blows from his playing career, to the prestigious medical journal Neurosurgery .
Omalu naively believed that the NFL would be receptive to a study that revealed how the sport was endangering the mental health of its participants. Instead, after the paper appeared in the July 2005 issue of Neurosurgery. the response was a letter to the editor from three members of the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee (MTBI), which noted "serious flaws" in the study and demanded an official retraction.
Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered the presence of tau proteins, which impair moods and cognitive function upon accumulation, in the brains of professional football players. (Photo: Sony Pictures)
Omalu pressed forward with examination of a second brain, of another retired football player named Terry Long. Like Webster, Long had exhibited distressing behavior after his retirement, eventually killing himself at age 45 by drinking antifreeze. Omalu discovered the same buildup of tau proteins — another case of CTE — and submitted a second paper to Neurosurgery .
By this point, the general press had caught wind of the concept of CTE, and the NFL's MTBI again responded by publicly vilifying Omalu and his research. However, examinations of more ex-football players confirmed his initial findings, and also drew the support of influential allies like Dr. Julian Bailes, chairman of neurosurgery at West Virginia University Hospitals and a former Steelers team doctor.
The tipping point came with an article by Jeanne Marie Laskas in a September 2009 issue of GQ. which detailed Omalu's discovery of CTE and the NFL's continued denial of its existence. Shortly afterward, the league revealed the results of a study that determined its former players were suffering from memory-related diseases at a higher rate than the normal population, its first public admission that maybe there was a problem.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was subsequently hauled in to testify before a House Judiciary Committee in October 2009 about safety measures, and stricter guidelines were established in the pro game to limit head injuries. Still, dozens of former players embarked on legal action against the NFL in 2011, claiming that the league had failed to adequately warn and protect them. As of the summer of 2015, more than 5,000 former players were involved in a consolidated lawsuit, with a settlement figure of $765 million deemed insufficient by a judge.
In the meantime, Hollywood director and producer Ridley Scott enlisted former investigative journalist Peter Landesman to write and direct a movie based on Laskas's GQ article. He also recruited Smith, the sort of A-list star who would draw attention to the project. With Sony on board as the film's distributor, shooting began in October 2014.
In September 2015, a level of shadowy intrigue was added when a New York Times article cited emails from the previous year's Sony hack as evidence that the studio had bowed to the NFL's demands to soften the tone of the movie. Landesman steadfastly denied capitulating to the NFL, his stance backed by respected sportscaster Bob Costas, who issued a statement that read, "I have seen the movie. As one who has followed, and commented on, this issue, it doesn't appear to me many punches were pulled."
The NFL may never fully fess up to its culpability in the suffering of its former players, but with its continuing changes to concussion guidelines and mounting legal liabilities, it's undeniable that some progress has been made. Furthermore, it's clear that vindication has come for Omalu, now chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, California, and a professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. With the release of Concussion. viewers will learn more about his fight to be heard, more than 13 years after Mike Webster's brain changed the course of his life.
Omalu was born in Nnokwa, Idemili South. Anambra in southeastern Nigeria. in September 1968,  the sixth of seven siblings. He was born during the Nigerian Civil War. which caused his family to flee from their home in the predominantly Igbo village of Enugwu-Ukwu in southeastern Nigeria. They returned to their village two years after Omalu’s birth.  Omalu’s mother was a seamstress and his father a civil mining engineer and community leader in Enugu-Ukwu. The family name, Omalu, is a shortened form of the surname, Onyemalukwube, which translates to "he (she) who knows, speak." Education and career
Omalu began primary school at age three, and earned entrance into the Federal Government College Enugu for secondary school. He attended medical school starting at age 16 at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. After graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) in June 1990, he completed a clinical internship, followed by three years of service work doctoring in the mountainous city of Jos. He became disillusioned with Nigeria after presidential candidate Moshood Abiola failed to win the Nigerian presidency after an inconclusive election in 1993  and began to search for scholarship opportunities in the United States. Omalu first came to Seattle. Washington in 1994 to complete an epidemiology fellowship at the University of Washington. In 1995, he left Seattle for New York City. where he joined Columbia University ’s Harlem Hospital Center for a residency training program in anatomic and clinical pathology .
After residency, he trained as a forensic pathologist under noted forensic consultant Cyril Wecht at the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh. Omalu became particularly interested in neuropathology .
Omalu is currently chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, California and is a professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Research on CTE
Omalu's autopsy of former Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Webster in 2002 led to Omalu's discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. or CTE. Webster had died suddenly and unexpectedly, following years of struggling with cognitive and intellectual impairment, destitution, mood disorders, depression, drug abuse, and suicide attempts. Although Webster’s brain looked normal at autopsy, Omalu conducted independent and self-financed tissue analyses. He suspected Webster suffered from dementia pugilistica. dementia induced by repeated blows to the head, a condition found previously in boxers. Using specialized staining, Omalu found large accumulations of tau protein in Webster's brain, affecting mood, emotions, and executive functions similar to the way clumps of beta-amyloid protein contribute to Alzheimer's disease .
Together with colleagues in the Department of Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh. Omalu published his findings in the journal Neurosurgery in 2005 in a paper titled "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player." In it, Omalu called for further study of the disease: "We herein report the first documented case of long-term neurodegenerative changes in a retired professional NFL player consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This case draws attention to a disease that remains inadequately studied in the cohort of professional football players, with unknown true prevalence rates."  Omalu believed the National Football League (NFL) doctors would be "pleased" to read it and that his research could be used to "fix the problem." The paper received little attention initially, but members of the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) Committee later called for its retraction in May 2006.  Their letter requesting the retraction characterized Omalu’s description of CTE as "completely wrong" and called the paper "a failure." 
Omalu later partnered with Julian Bailes, a neurosurgeon, concussion researcher, and then chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at West Virginia University School of Medicine. and West Virginia attorney Robert P. Fitzsimmons, to found the Brain Injury Research Institute. establishing a brain and tissue bank. 
In November 2006, Omalu published a second Neurosurgery paper based on his findings in the brain of former NFL player Terry Long. who suffered from depression and committed suicide in 2005. Though Long died at 45, Omalu had found tau protein concentrations more consistent with "a 90-year-old brain with advanced Alzheimer’s." As with Mike Webster, Omalu asserted that Long’s football career had caused later brain damage and depression.  Omalu also found evidence of CTE in the brains of retired NFL players Justin Strzelczyk (d. 2004 at 36 years old), Andre Waters (d. 2006 at 44), and Tom McHale (d. 2008 at 45).
In summer 2007, Bailes presented his and Omalu's findings to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at a league-wide concussion summit. Bailes later said the research was "dismissed." The NFL's MTBI committee chair, Ira Casson. told the press: "In my opinion, the only scientifically valid evidence of a chronic encephalopathy in athletes is in boxers and in some Steeplechase jockeys." 
The NFL did not publicly acknowledge the link between concussions sustained in football and CTE until December 2009,  seven years after Omalu's discovery.
Omalu has also discovered CTE in the brains of military veterans, publishing the first documented case in a November 2011 article.  Omalu found evidence of CTE in a 27-year-old Iraq War veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and later committed suicide. Omalu’s paper links PTSD to the CTE spectrum of diseases and calls for further study.In popular media
Omalu's efforts to study and publicize CTE in the face of NFL opposition were reported in a GQ magazine article in 2009 by journalist Jeanne Marie Laskas.  The article was later expanded by Laskas into a book, Concussion (Penguin Random House, 2015), and adapted into a film of the same name where Omalu is the central character portrayed by Will Smith. The movie's production led to the creation of a foundation named after Omalu to advance CTE and concussion research. Personal life
Omalu is married to Prema Mutiso, a native of Kenya. They live in Lodi, California and have two children, Ashly and Mark.  He is a practicing Catholic. and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in February 2015. Notes and References
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bennet Omalu ".
Saturday June 18th, 2016
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The Boston University School of Public Health has rescinded its plans to award Dr. Bennet Omalu, a trailblazer in concussion research, with the university's esteemed Beyond Health Award.
Omalu's life and research were chronicled in last winter's movie Concussion as he was played by actor Will Smith.
Last weekend, Omalu was quoted in a Boston Globe story about a potential conflict of interest involving the WWE and the BU-affiliated Concussion Legacy Foundation. Omalu has agreed to examine the brains of three professional wrestlers who have died in 2016, all under the age of 50. He had a fallout with Chris Nowinski, who chairs the Concussion Legacy Foundation, after they formed the Sports Legacy Institute together.
“What I find very surprising is the timing of this, right after the article,” Omalu said. “It feels like a vendetta against me.”
In the story, several professional wrestlers called out Nowinski for not aggressively looking into the brains of deceased wrestlers to document CTE.
• Week Under Review: Why Roger Goodell should settle with Tom Brady
The university's dean informed Omalu in April that it was a “great pleasure to honor you with the Beyond Health Award in recognition of your research, discovery, and activism on chronic traumatic encephalopathy.” This week, Omalu was told that plans changed to “highlighting people with closer connections to our School of Public Health as we mark our 40th anniversary.”
Dr. Bennet Omalu is, some might say, living the American Dream. A Nigerian immigrant, Omalu made a home for himself in the United States, working as a pathologist in Pittsburgh. It wasn't until he was tasked with performing the autopsy of former NFL player Mike Webster in 2002 that his life truly took a turn for the dramatic. It was this case that would inspire Omalu to discover a brain disease found in professional athletes who suffer the repeated brain trauma of a concussion, later called CTE. His research, as well as his contentious relationship with the NFL, who denied his findings for years, can now be found on the big screen in Concussion , starring Will Smith as Omalu. In the film, Omalu is seen receiving threats from the NFL, both public and private — events that were also described in Jeanne Marie Laskas' 2005 GQ article, "Game Brain" (the NFL has not publicly commented on the film's claims, and a spokesperson has not responded to Bustle's request for comment). While Omalu's original findings and medical documents play a big role in both "Game Brain" and Concussion. they're not widely known to the public, but thankfully, you can read Omalu's papers on NFL concussions to learn more about his startling discoveries.
Dr. Omalu's medical paper on Webster, titled "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player," was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Neurosurgery. in 2005. His initial paper on NFL concussions can be read in its entirety online via Laskas' official website here. In this paper, Omalu called for further study from the NFL and a heightened awareness among NFL players of the potential dangers of repeated brain injury.
"This case highlights potential long-term neurodegenerative outcomes in retired professional National Football League players subjected to repeated mild traumatic brain injury. The prevalence and pathoetiological mechanisms of these possible adverse long-term outcomes and their relation to duration of years of playing football have not been sufficiently studied. We recommend comprehensive clinical and forensic approaches to understand and further elucidate this emergent professional sport hazard."
Following the publication of Dr. Omalu's work, Neurosurgery received a letter signed by three scientists demanding that the paper be retracted. According to "Game Brain," all three of the scientists were associated with the NFL, hired as members of their Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee. Neurosurgery denied their request, and, just over one year later, published Dr. Omalu's second paper, "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy In A National Football League Player: Part II. " In this work, Omalu based his further research on his second detected case of CTE, discovered during the autopsy of former NFL player Terry Long. The full text of Omalu's second paper does not appear to be easily accessible online, though Laskas' official website also has a link to "Part II." (That link directs users to an article about Laskas and Omalu titled "The People v Football." )
Despite the years of research and two respected papers published on the subject, the NFL continued to deny Dr. Omalu's findings. The NFL's Dr. Ira Casson of the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee dismissed the validity of Omalu's work during a press conference in 2007, saying, "The only scientifically valid evidence of chronic encephalopathy in athletes is in boxers and in some steeplechase jockeys. It's never been scientifically, validly documented in any other athletes."
Now in 2015, the cases of known CTE are well into the double digits, and the condition has been acknowledged, if reluctantly, by the NFL. However, 10 years after Omalu's initial paper on NFL concussions was published, his original call for more studies remains valid. Based on initial reactions to Concussion. many are hopeful that an increased spotlight on CTE will help bring about change in the NFL.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson, a NFL player currently playing for the New York Jets, wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated after seeing Concussion . expressing his shock, disappointment, and mixed feelings after having been exposed to the real story behind CTE. "I fear the unavoidable truth is that playing football has placed me in harm's way, and I am not yet sure of the full extent of what it might cost me," he wrote. Clearly, football players deserve to be educated on the risks they run playing football. Despite being published 10 years ago, Omalu's work remains relevant and worth a read.
Images: Columbia Pictures
Writer. Peter Landesman (Screenplay ) Jeanne Marie Laskas (Article )
Starring. Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Morse, Arliss Howard, Mike O’Malley, Eddie Marsan, Hill Harper, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Stephen Moyer, Luke Wilson
Plot. In Pittsburgh, accomplished pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu uncovers the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions in the course of normal play.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict. Event Changing Film
Story. Concussion starts as we meet Nigerian Doctor Bennet Omalu (Smith) a pathologist who has a slow method when he examines the dead, his boss Dr Cyril Wecht (Brooks) wants him to become more traditional quicker. We meet former NFL star Mike Webster (Morse) who has been struggling since retiring as have his team mate Justin.
As Bennet opens his doors to Prema (Mbatha-Raw) a successful African looking for a start in America, we see how Mike is falling further into a mess as his Dr Julian Bailes (Baldwin) is running out of ideas before he finally dies. Bennet is assigned to figure out why this once hero has died to give the how state a final answer to what happened. What he learns could change sports from a medical stand point forever.
Concussion shows how one sport can cause so many issues later in their life. We get to see how a neutral was the one person that was willing to push the limits against the NFL. We get to see how to see how the players are getting ill moments before their deaths. We don’t get into the NFL side enough as we only focus on Bennet’s story which is slightly disappointing. This is an important story because it shows yet another cover up in America
Will Smith. Dr Bennet Omalu is the Nigerian pathologist living and working in America, when one of his town’s favorite players dies he is assigned to examine the body, while examining the body he learns about the brain damage the NFL players are suffering from which could easily change the game forever. Will gives one of his best performance in many years here.
Alec Baldwin. Dr Julian Bailes is the former NFL doctor who couldn’t understand why he former players were acting the way they were. Once Bennet releases his research he teams up with him to turn his much loved sport into something safe again. Alec gives us a great performance in this role.
Albert Brooks. Dr Cyril Wecht is the head of the hospital in which Bennet works, he lets Bennet take these chances to make sure he can protect further injury even if it puts his own career in danger. Albert gives us a good performance which is perfect in the supporting role.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Prema is the young African woman who comes to live in America where she gets asked to live with community man Bennet, over time the two fall in love which makes her the strong part whenever Bennet is feeling weak. Gugu is good in this role without being anything special.
Support Cast . Concussion has a good supporting performance but sometime lacks the character time required.
Director Review. Peter Landesman – Peter gives us a good film exposing the truth about a sport that many people in the world enjoy.
Sports. Concussion shows the affects playing the sport could have on a human body.
Settings. Concussion doesn’t make too much out of the settings with none being anything memorable to the final story.
Special Effects. Concussion uses the effects to show how the affects happen to the brain.
Suggestion. Concussion is one to try, it is good to see how sports can be dangerous to the people playing.(Try It)
Best Part. Smith’s performance.
Worst Part. NFL side of the story.
Believability. Based on what happened and how the sport was changed.
Chances of Tears. No
Chances of Sequel. No
Post Credits Scene. No
Awards. Nominated for Best Actor in Golden Globes.
Runtime. 2 Hours 3 Minutes
Tagline. Even Legends Need a Hero
Overall: Solid sports drama that doesn’t go into the real depths of the battle.