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Former football player with Traumatic Brain Injury Related Dementia Takes his Own Life

Traumatic brain injury is often misunderstood because it is not seen. Only the symptoms indicate there is a problem.

The difficulty with traumatic brain injury is that many in the sports world still laugh about having their ‘bell rung.’ Many also pick up and get on with their game, not wanting to look less than macho on the field or ice. While macho might be fine for them, they are taking a huge risk with their mental and physical health. If you want to get up close and personal with a hockey player’s long journey to recovery from traumatic brain injury, search for information on Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Traumatic brain injury doesn’t just happen in hockey, as the story about Ray Easterling points out.

Just recently, defensive back Ray Easterling, best known for playing with the Atlanta Falcons in the late 70s, took his own life at the age of 62. On the field he took no prisoners and played hard; a real football hero with the right mix of aggression and intuition to make his sport seem effortless to others. He was watched with awe and envy by others wanting to be him when they grew up and went to college.

Easterling got banged up during his football years and suffered consecutive concussions that eventually led to mental difficulties for him. In 2011, he and six other former National Football League players filed a class-action lawsuit, suggesting the league withheld their knowledge of what frequent concussions would do to players.

Easterling, diagnosed with dementia last year, could not live with the changes he faced on a daily basis. He had struggled to deal with it, made changes to his life to work with it, and did the best he could to just be. He lost that battle one day, but his memory and his legacy lives on.

If anyone does not believe in the dramatic effect that serial concussions has on a person playing sports, you only have to read the stories of those dealing with the side effects now. While many currently involved in sports think that nothing like this could happen to them, they are wrong. It can happen to anyone, and the most frightening thing is that some concussions do not produce symptoms, but that does not mean internal brain damage has not been done.

If you suspect that you have been the victim of traumatic brain injury while playing sports, discuss your case with a qualified Austin personal injury lawyer. You need to know what options you have available, and how to move forward with your life. Be aware that traumatic brain injury happens in many other ways as well, such as motorcycle, bicycle, slip and fall accidents and exposure to concussive shock waves from explosions. If you are not sure if you have a case, contact a seasoned Austin personal injury lawyer and find out the lay of the land.

Brooks Schuelke is an Austin personal injury attorney with Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC. Contact an Austin injury lawyer at or (512) 476-4944.

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