Running back Sammy Morris had a slim chance of making the New England Patriots’ roster. His hope was that a compelling performance against the New York Giants in the Patriots’ final preseason game of 2011 might secure him a spot.
Less than five minutes into the game, however, Morris’ audition came to a jarring end, by way of an unmarked, free-blitzing defender whom he tried to block at the last second. Morris’ reward for his effort (he was actually covering for a teammate who got mixed up on a blocking assignment) was a blow to the head that left him staggering to the sidelines like a punch-drunk boxer.
Morris headed to the locker room for an evaluation, but he already knew the diagnosis. He had a concussion. No more game. No more Patriots. And no roster spot to open the season for the first time in his 12-year career (later that year, he signed with the Cowboys).
But here’s the silver lining: in 2010, Morris—along with his chiropractor, Dr. Joe Ford, and Frisco Liberty High School football coach Devin Lemons—had founded Trinity Sports Group (TSG), a Plano company that purports to have created the world’s first concussion recovery supplement, Neuro-Impact. The theory behind Neuro-Impact, according to Dr. Ford, is to speed up the healing process after a concussion by getting nutrients to the brain that it needs to function properly. The company says Neuro-Impact assists in normalizing the blood-brain barrier, which is responsible for limiting the expansion of tau protein.
Tau protein is a hot topic in the current concussion debate. It’s the toxic, gunky substance that (in excess) forms thick tangles in the brain that block nerve impulses. It is also the common marker in the autopsied brains of former NFL players who committed suicide and suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition caused by repetitive head trauma. CTE can make a 45-year-old brain look like it belongs to an 85-year-old, with the person showing the degenerative attributes of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The caveat to Neuro-Impact, though, is that a player doesn’t use it until he sustains a concussion. In Morris’ case, that meant he had the “fortunate” opportunity to see firsthand if the powder-based supplement worked.
“Last preseason game, he gets a concussion,” Dr. Ford says. “I ship it to him, and he’s like, ‘I’ve never recovered that fast and felt that good after a concussion. After two days, I felt like I never had one.’ ”
Morris’ results mirrored those of the product’s clinical study. It showed a recovery time nearly two and a half days quicker than the average of 4.5 days of the control sample. And, as Dr. Ford recalls, it was the first time in his 16 years of working with athletes that a patient was excited to get a concussion.
Still, Neuro-Impact has its share of skeptics within the medical community, mainly because, as a supplement, it doesn’t require FDA approval. But TSG believes it’s building a portfolio of player success stories that will in time validate Neuro-Impact as part of the standard concussion treatment protocol.
If the company is right, 20 years from now, those who once made a living out of repeatedly slamming into each other with the impact of a car wreck might have a chance to remember all those hits.
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