110 Out of 111 Brains
Are you wondering what the title of this blog post means? It refers to a study done in which the brains of 111 former National Football League players were examined; the New York Times reported the results in late July, 2017. Of the 111 brains studied posthumously at the request of family members, 110 of them were found to have signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE.
What is CTE?
Anyone who experiences repeated blows to the head over a period of time can develop CTE, a degenerative disease affecting the brain. Some of the telltale symptoms include loss of memory, chronic confusion, mood disorders (especially depression), violent outbursts and other behavioral problems, and dementia. Suicide is not infrequent among CTE sufferers. The only way at present to receive a definitive diagnosis of CTE is to examine the brain after death.
Since March, 2016, it’s been widely known that the risk of developing CTE is linked to football-related concussions. Jeff Miller, the NFL’s top guy for health and safety, has publicly acknowledged the connection.
The Disturbing Study Results
Neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee tested 202 brains in all. In addition to the 111 NFL players, she also examined brains from 91 others who ranged from former high school players to those in the Canadian Football League. Of these 202 brains, 87 percent of them were diagnosed with CTE.
It has been claimed that the study is biased, and Dr. McKee herself has warned that the sample was not random, as families requested the testing to determine whether their loved ones suffered from CTE. However, here is one way to look at it. If every one of the 1,300 NFL players who have died since the study began tested negative for the disease—an extremely unlikely possibility—the 110 positive results would still amount to 9 percent of the deceased players, a terrifically high percentage when compared to CTE in the general population.
If you are a football fan, you’ve likely heard about the CTE cases of Ken Stabler and Junior Seau. But you may not know about NY Giants defensive back Tyler Sash, who died at 27 from an accidental overdose of pain medication. His brain was tested at his family’s request. Even at the young age of 27, he had participated in football for 16 years of his life, and had begun to display the signs of CTE. He tested positive for the disease.
How Does This Affect Me?
If you don’t follow football, you might not see the relevance of the CTE study to your own life. However, if you have a child who wants to play football in the youth leagues, you should consider these results carefully.
The NFLhas started urging the various youth football leagues to play gentler or non-tackle versions of the game. Recommendations range from using alternative forms of tackles (shoulder first, or “hawk” tackles) to playing flag football, which is non-tackle.
The national organization for amateur football, U.S.A. Football, is implementing alternative versions of the traditional tackle game for youth in a program called Heads Up Football. Specifically designed to reduce risk to players, it teaches new techniques that coaches can show their players and puts its primary emphasis on safety. The program began in 2012 and is currently used by over 7,000 high school and youth programs.
If your child is interested in football and you are concerned about the risks of CTE, check to see whether your school or town is taking part in Heads Up Football.
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What is your next step toward justice? If you or your loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury that you believe is due to negligence, you should not delay, because there is a time limit for filing claims. Contact Mike today by using our online form, or call 1-317-825-5200.