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Doctors and a former NFL athlete talk about the risks and treatments of concussions

Ben Utecht
Tony Tribble
In this Sept. 14, 2008, file photo, Cincinnati Bengals starting tight end Ben Utecht is taken off the field during an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans in Cincinnati. He had to retire after his fifth concussion and is still feeling the effects.

In this episode of WJCT's What's Health Got to Do With It, retired NFL player Ben Utecht talks about his history of brain injuries before a panel of doctors discuss concussions in sports.

HBO’s Hard Knocks, now in its 18th season, follows an NFL team through the preseason up until the first regular-season game. It packs an emotional wallop as you watch high-stakes team decisions, who makes the cut and who gets injured along the way. High-velocity collisions are a mainstay in the show, often resulting in concussions.

These injuries are not limited to football. From gymnastics to equestrian sports, concussions are considered a hazard of the job for many professional athletes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year in the U.S., between 1.6 million and 3.8 million athletes, both professional and recreational, sustain concussions. That's about 10% of all contact sport athletes becoming concussed each year.

In this episode of WJCT's What's Health Got to Do With It, Ben Utecht,, a tight end who played for the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts before he was forced to retire because of traumatic brain injury. After suffering five known concussions during his career, he retired after a concussion suffered during the 2009 preseason, which was aired on Hard Knocks.

"The last one was the nail in the coffin," he says.

After he shares his story and his work with the NFL in improving care for head injuries, a panel of doctors discuss concussions in athletics.

Dr. Joe Sirven, a neurologist, is the host.


  • Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, Henry Ford Health Director, Kutcher Clinic for Sports Neurology; team neurologist, U.S. Olympic Ski & Snowboard team; director, NBA Concussion Program; neurology advisor, NFL Players’ Association, NHL Players’ Association, Major League Soccer Players’ Association; executive committee member, International Congress for Athlete Brain Health.
  • Dr. Javier Cardenas, medical director, Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center, Barrow Neurological Institute.
  • Dr. Bert Vargas, neurologist; director, American Medical Response motorsports neurotrauma program, AMR/NASCAR safety team.
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