FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)- A well-known doctor who first identified the connection between traumatic brain injuries and football spoke in Fort Wayne, Tuesday night. Dr. Bennet Omalu’s groundbreaking research was profiled in the move ‘Concussion.’ He was the final speaker in the IPFW Omnibus Lecture Series.
“Believe in yourself and standing your ground even in the face of adversity,” that’s the message Dr. Bennet Omalu stressed to the crowd at IPFW Tuesday night.
In 2002, he named the disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), after an autopsy for a Pittsburgh Steelers Center who died at the age of 50. The player’s brain showed trauma signs doctors had never seen before. Within five years of reporting on the case, Dr. Omalu went on to identify CTE in eight more deceased NFL players. Shortly after his discovery the NFL and other rejected his findings.
“They ridiculed me, they rejected my message they dismissed me,” Dr. Omalu said.
After the award winning movie “Concussion” staring Will Smith was released, people began to change their minds. Dr. Omalu calls it the Will Smith effect.
“Because it’s Will Smith who was very much liked,” Dr. Omalu said. “He is trusted in America much more trusted than I am. People chose to believe him.”
Dr. Omalu now travels the world educating people about the devastating effects football and other contact sports have on the brain. Tuesday night he talked about his research and discovery. Dr. Omalu also touched on overcoming obstacles in Tuesday’s lecture named, “don’t break the rules change the game.”
“He did talk about his CTE discovery but he was just very inspirational in the fact that he was going against the grain,” Alyssa Hoffman, an IPFW Student, said.
“We should stand firm and just keep going from there,” Mariana Ayala-Gutierrez, an IPFW student, said. “That’s what he did. That’s what got him where he is now.”
Despite being met with resistance he had this message to students: “the impossible can become possible.”
“You believe in yourself,” Dr. Omalu said. “Believe in science, believe in fate. and we can do all things.”