With the football season about to go into full swing, warnings continue to reverberate about traumatic brain injury on the gridiron.
Earlier this year, Boston University School of medicine researchers as reported by CNN and other news outlets found extensive brain damage in six deceased former National Football League players.
The study also found the initial stages of the degenerative condition, known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), in an 18-year-old athlete who had suffered multiple concussions.
According to medical researchers at BU’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE is a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by repetitive trauma to the brain. The condition characterized by the build-up of a toxic protein called tau in the form of neurofibrillary tangles and neuropil threads throughout the brain.
CTE sufferers may display clinical symptoms such as memory impairment, emotional instability, erratic behavior, depression and problems with impulse control. However, the condition eventually progresses to full-blown dementia.
Dr. Ann McKee, the center’s co-director, said that “what’s been surprising is that [CTE] is so extensive. It’s throughout the brain, not just on the superficial aspects of the brain, but deep inside.” Dr. McKee also suggested that the tangles closely resemble what might be found in the brain of an elderly person suffering Alzheimer’s-related dementia.
The NFL is apparently conducting its own inquiry into the long-term effects of repetitive brain injuries. And according to Fox Sports, the league now levies fines and suspensions toward those who commit illegal helmet-to-helmet hits. It has also tightened the medical rules about allowing players with in-game concussions to re-take the field.
Added Dr. Robert Stern, the center’s other co-director:
CTE is the only fully preventable cause of dementia. By studying large numbers of athletes throughout their lives, as well as examining brain tissue through our expanding CSTE brain bank, we will be able to determine the specific risk factors for CTE. This, in turn, will foster education and allow meaningful guidelines to be implemented at all levels of athletic participation, from youth, to college, to pro. In the mean time, however, we already know that return to play too soon after a concussion can have devastating results.
About 100 NFL athletes have agreed to donate their brains to BU’s School of Medicine after their death for further study.
According to a 2007 University of North Carolina study, the rate of diagnosed clinical depression among retired NFL players is strongly correlated with the number of concussions they sustained.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that about 5.3 million Americans suffer from a traumatic brain injury–caused by a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain–yet many do not know they are a victim of the condition due to the multitude of symptoms that are often unique to the individual. The causes are endless, but auto-accidents and accidental falls are the most common. While some situations are purely accidental, the negligence of another person may sometimes cause a traumatic brain injury.
If you believe that you (or a love one) have sustained a traumatic brain injury, it is important to hire an experienced brain injury attorney. In Virginia, the brain injury lawyers at The Law Offices of Richard J. Serpe, P.C. have a proven track record of success. Call 877-544-5323 for a free consultation.