Student Sues College & NCAA for Concussions

     PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – A Portland State football player has permanent brain injuries from multiple concussions because he was told to keep playing before his first concussion had resolved, the man claims in court.
     Portland State University freshman Zachary Walen claims PSU’s football coaches cleared him to play without making sure he had all the medical care needed after suffering a concussion.
     Walen also sued the NCAA for failing to monitor post-concussion procedures at PSU.
     In 2010, the NCAA adopted a concussion management policy for colleges to implement, but PSU didn’t follow it and the NCAA didn’t enforce it, Walen claims in the lawsuit.
     In his first game for the Vikings in 2012, Walen says, he was hit directly on the head during the fourth quarter, and suffered a concussion that PSU athletic staff did not identify at the time. His parents took him to a hospital after the game.
     Walen took an ImPACT test, a computerized exam used to monitor concussions and gauge the severity of them. They are administered from two and three days after a suspected concussion. He says he failed the test.
     Defendant Dr. Charles Webb, of Oregon Health & Science University, said Walen needed to pass another ImPACT test before he could continue playing, but Walen claims he was never asked to perform a second one.
     Walen played eight more games as a linebacker and began to suffer from “overwhelming feelings of depression and anxiety,” along with anger, lack of focus, impaired memory and “crippling headaches,” the complaint states. He eventually quit the team, in the fall of 2013.
     Walen says Dr. Webb thought he may have been suffering from post-concussion syndrome, and referred him to several other specialists for evaluation.
     A psychologist then diagnosed Walen with “major neurocognitive disorder with behavioral disturbance and post-concussion syndrome,” and a doctor diagnosed him with traumatic brain injury, according to the complaint.
     Since the brain injury diagnosis, Walen says, he continues to suffer from headaches, memory loss, irritability, and problems focusing.
     He seeks $5 million in damages for negligence, medical malpractice, and emotional distress.
     Named as defendants are Portland State, the NCAA, the Oregon Health and Science University, Dr. Webb, Portland State head athletic trainer Duane Duey, and Vikings head coach Nigel Burton.
     Walen is represented by Robert Beatty-Walters.

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