POCATELLO — Caroline Faure, director of the Center for Sports Concussion and associate professor in the Department of Sport Science and Physical Education at Idaho State University, is hopeful that the new film “Concussion” will raise awareness and change attitudes surrounding concussion injuries.
“Concussion” is scheduled to hit theaters nationwide Friday, Dec. 25. The film boasts names including Will Smith, Alec Baldwin and Luke Wilson in leading roles and its plot centers on a forensic pathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu, played by Smith.
“While conducting an autopsy on former NFL football player Mike Webster, forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu discovers neurological deterioration that is similar to Alzheimer’s disease,” reads a synopsis of the film on IMDb.
Omalu names the disorder Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and publishes his findings in a medical journal. He then makes it his mission to raise awareness about the dangers of football-related head trauma as other athletes face the same diagnosis.
“This is information we, as researchers, have known for quite some time,” Faure said. “I’m hoping that bringing the story to the big screen and having someone as popular as Will Smith playing the lead role will help parents and young athletes understand the severity of this injury.”
According to Faure, concussive injury affects between 1.6 and 3.8 million athletes each year.
“That is scary,” Faure said. “But what is even scarier is what we don’t know. We don’t know how many current and former athletes are living with CTE, and we don’t really know how it can be prevented—other than just giving up contact sport altogether.”
CTE is a degenerative disease of the brain often found in individuals with a history of repetitive brain trauma. This trauma may include symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic sub concussive hits to the head. The disease is progressive and often found in athletes.
“One of the most important things we can do is ensure each athlete who sustains a concussion receives a comprehensive concussion evaluation,” Faure said. “A homogenous, or one-size-fits-all, approach just doesn’t cut it anymore.”
Prior to its release, the film has already garnered press and comments from current and former names in the NFL including Tom Brady, current New England Patriots quarterback; Keith McCants, fourth pick of the 1990 NFL draft; Willie Gault, Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders wide receiver active from 1983 to 1993; and several others.
“What people need to remember is that this movie is real,” Faure said. “This is not Hollywood fiction.”