Roethlisberger to Play— Bad Science?

It’s official, QB Ben Rothlisberger will play today after suffering a concussion last week (his second such injury in six months). A report on today casts doubt on the NFL’s policy regarding head injury and the man in charge of that policy—Elliot Pellman.

Pellman is a rheumatologist (a doctor who deals with disorders of the joints) and not a neuropsychologist, neurophysiologist or a neurosurgeon. After being hired as medical liaison to the NFL commissioner in 2001, the portly Pellman claimed he held a medical degree from SUNY Stony Brook. The NY Times revealed last year that this was a falsehood. Pellman’s grades were not good enough to get into an American medical school such as Stony Brook and instead he attended the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara in 1975. He participated in a one-year residency at Stony Brook and it’s reported by ESPN that many colleagues and medical professionals look at him as a joke.

He’s overseen the NFL’s study of concussion, which many experts say is flawed. The findings that Pellman has released contradict other major medical studies regarding concussion and brain trauma.

One important finding reported by media sources today is that “Pellman and his colleagues wrote in January 2005 that returning to play after a concussion ‘does not involve significant risk of a second injury either in the same game or during the season.’” This is a direct contradiction of experts in the field, including those whose specialties are sports medicine and brain injury. today notes that. “It turns out that when he and his collaborators assembled data for a crucial part of their ongoing study, they didn’t include results from hundreds of NFL players, some of whom had had concussions. Says Kevin Guskiewicz, director of the Sports Medicine Research Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: ‘The data that hasn’t shown up makes their work questionable industry-funded research.’” Pellman’s research is funded by the NFL.

Let’s hope that this NFL insider’s “findings� haven’t put NFL players such as Roethlisberger at greater risk of permanent injury.

By the way– wouldn’t you think that the NFL would have one of the best medical professionals avaiable handling their medical information and a specialist in head trauma? I wouldn’t go to Pellman for a sore throat.

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