It looks like popular culture, namely American television, has finally gotten the message about the long-term effects of concussions on the brain. And that is apparently going to be one of the dramatic elements of FX network’s new boxing drama, “Lights Out.”
The series, which debuted Tuesday, is about a one-time champ boxer, Patrick “Lights” Leary, who has been retired from the ring for several years. In the opening scene we find out why: His wife told him she couldn’t take seeing him get hurt anymore and she wanted him to quit.
We learn this during a flashback scene, when we see the wife Theresa tending to Lights’ bloody face, stitching up his split eyelid after a fight where he has lost his title.
“You blacked out,” she tells him. “You have a concussion.”
Flash forward about five years. We see that Lights is having problems with his memory. At one point, he is asked his Social Security number and he can’t remember it.
Lights goes to the doctor, and we see him reciting the “Hail Mary” as he glides into the MRI chamber. Next we see him standing with his physician, looking at a scan of his brain.
Apparently, Lights didn’t quit boxing quite soon enough.
His doctor gives him the grim diagnosis, saying, “It’s called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, otherwise known as pugilistic….”
“…dementia,” Lights finishes the sentence, adding, “I know what it’s called.”
CTE is the progressive brain disease that recent research has shown is afflicting NFL players, young and old, now. Concussions take their toll over the years, for not only boxers but football players.
“Now in this case, we’re looking at symptoms that could eventually lead to Alzheimer’s,” the doctor tells Lights.
“How long?” Lights asks.
“There is so little we understand about the brain that’s impossible to predict,” the doctor says.
“Just give me a ballpark,” Lights says.
“It could be two years. It could be 10. It could be never,” the doctor replies.
“If it’s not never, what happens?” Lights asks.
“Symptomatically, disorientation, loss of memory, anxiety, loss of body control,” the doctor says. “You do understand, this is all speculation.”
“Yeah,” Lights says. But you don’t believe that Lights thinks it is just speculation.
This new TV show has the potential to teach Americans a lot about the impact of concussions. Perhaps some parents will stop their kids from boxing, rather than have them risk brain damage. After all, the whole point of boxing is to give your opponent a concussion.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
firstname.lastname@example.org :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.