Will Smith reportedly will star in an untitled movie about forensic neuropathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu, who first discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition caused by repeated blows to the head. Dr. Omalu, made the discovery while conducting an autopsy on a former NFL football player.
Smith, 45, the only actor to have 8 consecutive films gross over $100 million in the domestic box office, will be a powerful influence on his portrayal of Dr. Omalu’s study of concussions in professional sports. After several NFL players suffered season-ending injuries, the NFL made efforts to minimize injuries and make the game safer. New protocols by the NFL require players with suspected concussions to be evaluated. Youth athletes suffer serious injuries as well and advocates in youth sports are lobbying to ensure their health and safety. According to the Youth Sport Safety Alliance, high school athletes suffer 2 million injuries, 200,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations every year.
A study released this year found that football helmets used on the field may do little to protect against hits to the side of the head, or rotational force, a possible source of brain injury and CTE. The study was presented during the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, held April 26 to May 3, 2014.
Frank Conidi, MD, DO, MS, the study’s co-author stated that “Protection against concussion and complications of brain injury is especially important for young players, including elementary and middle school, high school and college athletes, whose still-developing brains are more susceptible to the lasting effects of trauma.” Conidi, is the director of the Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology and Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology at Florida State University College of Medicine in Port Saint Lucie, Fla and also the vice chair of the American Academy of Neurology’s Sports Neurology Section. Researchers concluded that certain popular football helmets reduced the risk of skull fracture by 60 to 70 percent and reduced the risk of focal brain tissue bruising by 70 to 80 percent.