Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ritalin for the Once-Concussed ... and the Many-Times-Concussed

[posted 4/20/11 to]

Two days ago this blog broke the story of how concussed athletes use Ritalin to beat National Football League/World Wrestling Entertainment doctor Joseph Maroon’s patented ImPACT neurocognitive testing system. I’ll have the full text of that piece up here as soon as it rotates off the front page at Beyond Chron.

One of the seminal national magazine articles on chronic traumatic encephalopathy – “Game Brain” by Jeanne Marie Laskas in the October 2009 issue of GQ – suggests that the Ritalin trail also extends to the post-career agony of brain-damaged football players.

“Game Brain” tells the story of the late Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Mike Webster’s descent into mental illness and homelessness, and the postmortem discovery of his CTE by Dr. Bennet Omalu. In 1997, Laskas writes, Webster met Bob Fitzsimmons, a lawyer who is now on the board of directors of West Virginia University’s Brain Injury Research Institute:

“Mike Webster sat down and told Fitzsimmons what he could remember about his life. He had been to perhaps dozens of lawyers and dozens of doctors. He really couldn’t remember whom he’d seen or when. He couldn’t remember if he was married or not. He had a vague memory of divorce court. And Ritalin. Lots of Ritalin.”

The full text of the article is viewable at It was an exhibit of WWE lawyer Jerry McDevitt’s most recent saber-rattling letter to me last December (see

Irv Muchnick

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