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NFL Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg and Parkinsons- Caused by Head Injury?

6 Sep 1998:  Former player and coach Forrest Gregg makes a speech during a game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Tennessee Oilers at Cinergy Field in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Oilers defeated the Bengals 23-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark Lyons  /Allsport
Mark Lyons/Getty Images
Brooke McGeeCorrespondent INovember 16, 2011

Although we can say nothing with certainty, we know tragedy when we read it.

Hearing that Forrest Gregg, former Green Bay Packer Hall of Famer was recently diagnosed Parkinson’s Disease is a blow. When you then hear that it may have a possible correlation with his past head injuries, you suddenly become thankful for more strict regulations on football conduct.

What the former Packer is dealing with are hand tremors, a blunted, softer voice, a stooped posture, and a reduced stride. His diagnosis of Parkinson’s was made by Dr. Rajeev Kumar, a Parkinson’s expert at the Colorado Neurological Institute’s Movement Disorders Center in Denver.

According to research released by the Mayo Clinic in May of 2003, “those who have experienced a head injury are four times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease than those who have never suffered a head injury. The risk of developing Parkinson's increases eightfold for patients who have had head trauma requiring hospitalization, and it increases 11-fold for patients who have experienced severe head injury.”

Having experienced multiple concussions over the course of his career with Green Bay and Dallas, it is undeniable that a connection may be there.

Current NFL concussion standards have been tightened lately, something Ryan Grant was protected by after a 2010 head injury which he sustained after a loss to the Cleveland Browns. Players must refrain from all play until they show no symptoms of concussion. Additionally, a neurologist must allow vouch for them to allow continued play. Many wonder though if even this is enough.

Looking back, San Diego Charger Kris Dielman suffered a head injury on field last month against the Jets, then proceeded to have a seizure in-flight on the way home.

Are coaches and management staff putting the importance of the game before the long term health of the players?

According to Clinical Psychology Associates, sports concussions are legitimate brain trauma and brain injuries. The damage can be permanent, although every concussion does not guarantee permanent brain damage.

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