Tim Krumrie: advocating, educating from career of experience
April 30, 2016
Tim Krumrie picked up a football as a freshman at Mondovi High School in Wisconsin and wouldn't put it down for the next 20 years.
In high school, Krumrie led his team in tackles as a linebacker and fullback for four straight years. He also was a state-ranked heavyweight wrestler and was the 1979 state champion.
Krumrie headed to the University of Wisconsin after high school as a linebacker but was eventually converted to nose tackle. He also wrestled for the Badgers for two years before deciding to focus solely on football.
Krumrie was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1983 draft.
"In 20 years, I never missed a game," Krumrie said. "I loved football, and I wouldn't change a thing."
Krumrie earned a reputation as one of the NFL's toughest players, and after he helped the Bengals win an AFC Championship during the 1988 season, the two-time Pro Bowl pick showcased his legendary grit during his one and only Super Bowl appearance against the San Francisco 49ers.
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In Super Bowl XXIII, Krumrie planted his foot to make a tackle and broke his tibia and fibula on the play.
It was hard to watch, and later, Krumrie refused to leave the stadium after the injury, but paramedics eventually convinced him he would go into shock if they didn't get him to the hospital.
He returned to the league the following year and logged several more productive seasons in the NFL before retiring in 1994 after leading the team in tackles five times.
In a time when the players of his generation are suing the NFL because they think the league didn't educate them on the dangers of concussions, Krumrie, who now lives in Steamboat Springs, has steered clear of the legal battles, choosing instead to focus on teaching young players proper technique and ways to avoid helmet-to-helmet contact whenever possible.
He admits there are times he feels the effects of taking on the best offensive linemen the NFL had to offer and spending years colliding with 200-plus-pound running backs. He also acknowledges his memory isn't as sharp, he has had problems sleeping and his balance isn't the best.
Until a few months ago, Krumrie said, he had ignored most of the symptoms.
"I knew there was something wrong, but I really didn't want to know, because there was no way to fix it," Krumrie said.
It was a business proposition that eventually shed light on Krumrie's symptoms. While pursuing a deal for fitness equipment, a longtime friend asked the former NFL star to become a spokesperson for CereScan, a cutting-edge company that provides advanced comprehensive and accurate brain diagnostic information for the purpose of significantly improving patient outcomes and advancing brain science.
Krumrie did some research and eventually agreed to represent the company; he also decided to have a scan done on his own brain.
Following the scan, Krumrie met with doctors, who explained what the scan revealed and discussed ways treatment could possibly improve his circumstances. He now follows a treatment plan prescribed by medical professionals, which Krumrie thinks is working to improve, but not fix, many of his symptoms.
"I'm sleeping through the night now, and I can remember things that I had forgotten," Krumrie said. "I had stopped watching football, because it made it really difficult to sleep, but now, I can watch the game I love."
He said CereScan is a diagnostic tool, not a treatment, and treatment plans vary from patient to patient.
"In some cases, the treatment might be a change in diet or more exercise or medications that lead to improvement," he said. "But in my case, this (treatment with an infrared light) is what seems to be working."
According to Krumrie, not every person with these problems will see an improvement with treatment, but the scans can help doctors diagnose what the problem might be and which parts of the brain are being affected.
"Before this, I had an answer for everything," Krumrie said. "I couldn't sleep and was irritable because I was out of football, and my balance was off because I had two new knees put it. I had an excuse for everything."
Krumrie is glad his symptoms have improved since he started treatment and said his case has not been linked to a disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Other athletes competing in sports with repeated contact have not been so lucky, and many have been diagnosed with CTE, which is thought to be caused by repeated impacts to the head.
Many times, the disease cannot be diagnosed until the brain is examined after death, and it has affected top athletes, such as football stars Junior Seau and Ken Stabler and Major League Baseball pitcher Ryan Freel.
Symptoms of a brain injury can range from short-term memory problems, personality changes, difficulty paying attention, mood swings, irritability, problems sleeping, anxiety, problems with balance and sometimes, violent dreams.
Many former NFL stars have reported dealing with the symptoms of multiple concussions, which has sparked an explosion of studies.