CTE and Concussions

Earlier today I commented on a blog about suicides and I spoke about how concussions have recently been contributing to many of the suicides for example the death of Kosta Karageorge.  This topic has always interested me so I decided to look into the details of Concussions and CTE in regards to the NFL and other athletes.

CTE stands for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head.  Throughout the last 50, rule changes and equipment changes have occurred frequently due to research and suicides of many of our loved athletes.  You can see the whole timeline of the concussion epidemic in the NFL here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sports/league-of-denial/timeline-the-nfls-concussion-crisis/.

Head to Head Contact

“Dr. Ann McKee, director of neuropathology at Boston College, also serves as a member of the Mackey White Traumatic Brain Injury Committee for the National Football League.”  She has examined many brains of deceased NFL players one including Junior Seau who committed a sudden suicide at the age of 43.  Dr. Ann McKee determined that Junior Seau had CTE and that was a big contributor to his suicide of a gunshot to the chest.  Since then 5,000 NFL players have sued the league over the dangers of concussions and brain damage.

“We have known about CTE since the 1920s, when it was first associated with boxing,” (McKee).  That is where the File Drawer Problem came into play because the NFL ignored and disregarded many signs of injuries in players and developing research.  In 2003 a New York Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet, was knocked out cold and was examined by Dr. Elliot Pellman, the Jets’ team doctor, who is also head of the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee and was sent back into play.  The File Drawer Problem occurs again in January 2004 when “the MTBI committee publishes a paper in Neurosurgery emphasizing that the NFL’s concussion problem is relatively small” saying that athletes recover quickly from concussions.

“CTE results in memory loss, mood swings, change of behavior, and sometimes suicide,” (McKee)  In a study of 80 former football players 77 of them showed definitive signs of CTE.  CTE has even shown up in the brains of healthy 18 year old high school football players.  CTE progresses even after a player has retired and there is no treatment or way of knowing you have it until after death.  Countless athletes including: Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, 36-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Justin Strzelczyk, Philadelphia Eagle Andre Waters and many more have passed away due to CTE and an alarming rate of Athletes are dealing with issues from countless hits to the head during their career in the NFL.

CTE and concussions are a huge deal and are contributing to many deaths and problems for athletes during and after their career.  The NFL has covered the severity of the issue but recently has promoted research and funded research to help learn about CTE.  Hopefully one day we can protect our athletes from head trauma possibly better designed helmets or different rules but for now head trauma remains a serious issue in the NFL and for its athletes.

Sources Cited:




4 thoughts on “CTE and Concussions

  1. Jon Winneg

    Like most people I watch the NFL religiously on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday but I believe that this is the biggest problem the NFL faces. I know there has been a lot of criticism for the new rules that increase player safety, but I believe this is essential to protect the people who provide us entertainment. I know Junior Seau is the most public case of the risk of suicide due to concussions, but I know that more players continue to come out and talk about implications they face as a result to head injury. Another case is Kansas City Chief Player Jevon Belcher who committed suicide in front of his coach, which most likely is due to concussion like symptoms. In an article by CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/30/us/nfl-concussions-fast-facts/) that shows there has actually have been a decrease in concussions, but this issue still shouldn’t be ignored. It is a crying shame that the NFL has made this a file drawer problem but I believe this isn’t as much of an issue today, but it is a shame how much these concussions affect their future.

  2. Katherine Sharon Trimble

    Recently the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment has created a new helmet standard to prevent concussions. In an article by USA Today, the NOCSAE the new standard helmet is a work in progress as of June 2014. Mike Oliver, executive director of NOCSAE, said, “I think what I could honestly say it by the time the standard becomes final that a helmet that meets that standard will provide the maximum level of protection consistent with technology and science that can be provided for concussions.” He continued to say, “I think what we will see over the next year, year and a half is I think we’ll see some unique combinations of padding and protective equipment. We’ll probably see some unique shell design changes, maybe some different shapes of the helmet. … I think we’ll see some innovation.” Because so many players have sued the NFL for concussions for head damage, it is nice to know that we are making improvements to enhance the safety of the players.

  3. Gregory Joseph Macqueen

    Being the huge NFL fan that I am, I have seen the numerous changes the NFL has been making to increase the safety of the players over the past few years. I think now that we have all been better informed of the impact the NFL can have on the players, we have to take more serious percausions to protect them. Luckily, the file drawer problem is no longer an issue and we are taking steps in the right direction. As much as I love the hard hitting game of football as it is, I think it is good that the league has decided to make it a safer environment for all the players. After reading this article, I went online and researched more on this topic. In this article i attached below, they discuss the severity of this problem and how in 2014, approximately 1 in every 3 retired NFL players suffers from brain trauma.

  4. Tiffany Elizabeth Breon

    I thought I’d read over this article because I just experienced my first concussion this year due to a car accident and the title captured my attention. Okay, so I knew concussions were pretty serious and should be handled as such, but I never knew that they could lead to such depressive thoughts. It’s intriguing to know all of the things that can lead to suicidal thoughts and I think this is just further evidence that suggests depression/depressive thoughts are caused by a chemical imbalance whether it occur naturally or be the result of something like multiple concussions. Here’s an article that discusses the brain chemistry of depression: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-depression-just-bad-chemistry/.

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