By Mary Bubala

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—As the first active division one athlete files a lawsuit against the NCAA over concussions, athletes, lawmakers, doctors and lawyers gathered together Friday in Baltimore to focus on the effects and consequences of concussions in sports.

Mary Bubala has the story.

From NFL players suing over hard hits and the lack of protection to the first active Division 1 athlete suing the NCAA this week over inadequately educating coaches and athletes about concussions, the legal ramifications for sports franchises, colleges and universities of not properly diagnosing concussions was a major focus of a wide ranging symposium at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in Baltimore.

Former NFL tight end Colin Cloherty is now a law student there and came to talk about his experience with concussion testing and diagnosis.

“I really think a lot of the kids are trying to play through these issues, and parents and coaches maybe not necessarily noticing it and are not as concerned with it and I think the dialogue in the last couple of years, including symposia like this, are really helping to change that and I want to be a part that progress,” Cloherty said.

Part of the discussion also brought doctors together to talk about advances in understanding what happens to the brain with sports-related concussions.

“In many cases, head injury causes a progressive degeneration of the brain, somewhat like Alzheimer’s does because of inflammation that may persist for many years after the trauma,” said Dr. Alan Faden, University of Maryland School of Medicine neurologist.

Wives of several former NFL players, including legendary Colt John Mackey, led another discussion about the difficult journey they lived through as their spouses suffered from concussion-related dementia.

“I noticed certain strange things about him after he retired from football in really every decade of his life, and then in his 50s, early 50s, these strange incidents began to  to escalate,” said Sylvia Mackey, wife.

John Mackey died in 2011. His wife, Sylvia, is in the process of writing a book about their journey.

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