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Brain Injuries and CTE
lgp28@cornell.edu
| May 3, 2011
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Yesterday, researchers at Boston University announced that Dave Duerson, the former Chicago Bears player, who committed suicide in February, had developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy in his brain. This disease has been found in more than 20 deceased players and is a trauma-induced illness. CTE is an incurable degenerative disease that compromises neural activity and has been linked to memory loss, depression and dementia.Yesterday, researchers at Boston University announced that Dave Duerson, the former Chicago Bears player, who committed suicide in February, had developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy in his brain. This disease has been found in more than 20 deceased players and is a trauma-induced illness. CTE is an incurable degenerative disease that compromises neural activity and has been linked to memory loss, depression and dementia. Duerson had expressed concerns to his family about his deteriorating mental health in the months leading up to his death and his final note asked that his brain be donated. CTE has been linked mostly to wrestlers in the past but other sports have been examining the issue of concussions. During a New York Times interview last year, University of North Carolina researcher Jason Mihalik said women’s ice hockey holds the highest rate of concussions amongst NCAA sports, more than both football and men’s ice hockey. This might come as a big surprise since women’s ice hockey does not allow for checking, but there is still opportunity for contact and some attribute this high rate of concussions to the lack of training given to women in anticipating checks or more full body contact. Despite increasing attention given to this very real effect to concussions and brain trauma, there hasn’t been much concrete regulation from governing bodies like the NCAA or NFL. According to international standards endorsed by the U.S. Olympic Committee, Olympic athletes who suffer concussions should wait four days before resuming practice and six days before resuming game action. However, for professional athletes, there is often a lot of pressure to return to the game with much less recovery time than that. In addition, it is the repeated brain trauma that seems to lead to CTE, so mandating time off for recovery is still not as likely to reduce this risk. It’s a very real risk that athletes now have to calculate – sacrificing their love for and skill in a sport with the possibility for devastating effects on their future.
Originally Aired: Tuesday, May 3, 2011. This is a part of the 93-Second Sports Shot series. 93-Second Sports Shots air weekday evenings at 6pm.
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