Is Professional Football Safe? Could We Make It Safer?: Perspectives from Neuroscience, Law, and Ethics
This panel discussion was part of the 2015 Annual Meeting of the International Neuroethics Society!
Professional football has come under significant scrutiny in recent years, particularly because of concerns over player health and safety. While concussions are most often discussed, players also face a variety of other health risks, from joint and muscle problems to cardiac malfunction to issues with chronic pain. But health risks are just one part of story. So, too, are the potential short and long-term benefits these exceptional athletes may reap from the game.
Panelists discussed the debate and The Football Players Health Study at Harvard University, which seeks to understand and improve the health and wellbeing of former NFL players. This study looks at the risks and benefits of playing football at the professional level over the life of the player, supports novel discoveries and new therapies, and seeks to improve the systems and organizational structures that may affect player health.
Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Harvard Medical School
Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD, is Professor of Neurology, Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research at Harvard Medical School, and Director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation. Dr. Pascual-Leone serves as Associate Director of the Football Players Health Study at Harvard University. He will explain the study and why the issues facing football players are broader than concussion alone, explore the lack of adequate scientific data on the risks and benefits of playing professional football, and describe what we do know about players' physical and mental health over their entire lives.
I. Glenn Cohen, Harvard Law School
I. Glenn Cohen, JD, is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and Faculty Director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology & Bioethics. Professor Cohen serves as the Co-Lead of the Law and Ethics Initiative of the Football Players Health Study at Harvard University. He will discuss the need to comprehensively analyze the non-clinical structural and organizational environment that influences player health.
Damien Richardson, Banner University Medical Center
Damien Richardson, MD, MPH, is a physician and orthopedic surgery resident, former NFL player, and current advisor to the Football Players Health Study. He will discuss the player's perspective on relevant health concerns and outstanding questions.
Moderator: Nita Farahany, Duke University
Nita Farahany, JD, PhD, Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at Duke, Director of Duke Science and Society, and a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, will moderate. Professor Farahany serves as a member of the Law and Ethics Advisory Panel for the Football Players Health Study.
The panel discussion was followed by an open reception with the panelists.
This event was free and open to the public.