NCAA Concussion Problems Spread to Hoops

     DALLAS (CN) – Allegations that the NCAA failed to protect college athletes from long-term effects of concussive head injuries have expanded from the football field to the basketball court.
     James Cunningham, of Denton County, sued the NCAA in Federal Court on June 20. Cunningham claims he “sustained repeated concussive trauma” while a member of the basketball teams at Arizona State University from 1994 to 1995 and the University of Tulsa from 1996 to 1998.
     Cunningham claims the NCAA was aware of “mounting literature and medical advice” on the long-term effects of such injuries, including two separate 2003 studies it helped fund.
     One of the studies recommended the use of standardized concussion assessment tools, he says in the complaint.
     “Despite having knowledge of the foregoing research studies and expert recommendations, the NCAA continued to allow players to play on the days immediately following their receipt of a concussion, failed to implement any guidelines or rules to prevent repeated concussions or educate players about their increased risk, and refused to endorse any of the recommended return to play procedures,” the 17-page complaint states.
     “The NCAA further failed to take any action to educate its student athletes on the risks of repeated head traumas.”
     Cunningham claims that after his collegiate career he suffered from “severe headaches, seizures, confusion and cognitive deterioration.”
     He sought treatment at the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins and Baylor University and underwent neurological testing that included CAT scans and MRIs.
     “As a direct result of the concussive head injuries he suffered while playing NCAA college basketball, Mr. Cunningham has and continues to incur significant medical bills and expenses,” the complaint states. “Mr. Cunningham suffers from constant headaches, memory loss, dizziness, severe depression, speech impediments, panic disorder, anxiety, mobility issues, irritability, chronic traumatic encephalopathy and panic disorder. Mr. Cunningham did not suffer from these conditions prior to incurring the concussions while playing NCAA basketball. In addition to his severe medical conditions which require constant treatment and monitoring, Mr. Cunningham is at an increased risk of developing latent brain injuries or additional neurodegenerative disorders.”
     The NCAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.
     It faces several other lawsuits from former college football players who allege similar injuries. Former players from Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt filed separate federal class actions in November 2013.
     Cunningham seeks actual and punitive damages for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, negligence and fraudulent concealment.
     He is represented by Jeffrey Raizner with Doyle Raizner in Houston.

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