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/.
“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.