Chronic traumatic encephalopathy Blogs

NFL Player Junior Seau Had CTE

By Tom Kiley on January 25, 2013 - Comments off

The National Institute of Health (NIH) recently told the AP that Junior Seau, the beloved NFL player who committed suicide last May, had the degenerative brain disease CTE.

What is CTE?

CTE stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy and is not uncommon in professional athletes who suffer from repetitive concussions in contact sports such as football. Seau, a 20-year vet, was likely repetitively hit on the field and suffered repetitive minor head injuries before developing the condition.

The symptoms for CTE are similar to the ones for dementia, including memory loss, depression, confusion, changes in personality, and aggression.

CTE and the NFL

In recent years, many former NFL players have posthumously been diagnosed with CTE. In fact, CTE can only be tested using samples from a deceased brain.

Seau ended his life with a shotgun blow to the chest. His suicide brings another NFL player to mind, Dave Duerson, who also shot himself in the chest, leaving instructions to his family to test his brain for CTE after his death in February 2011. It was later confirmed that Duerson did have CTE.

According to ESPN News, around 30 former pro players have been diagnosed with the disease. The number of players with CTE continues to grow every time an ex-player’s brain has been donated and tested.

The number of CTE cases in sports players is actually much larger, though not every athlete that suffers from CTE ever gets to the big time. Of the 1.1 million high-school football players only 69,000 (less than 2%) go on to play in the NCAA.

Sports Safety

As the effects of repetitive head trauma can reverberate throughout a person’s life, it is all the more important to raise awareness of sports-related brain injury especially at schools. Increased helmet use, as well as recognizing a concussion when it happens are both crucial steps to preventing future concussions.

This story was brought to you by the Boston brain injury attorneys at Kiley Law group. If you have suffered brain injuries due to someone else’s negligence in Massachusetts, call 1-800-410-2769 to find out about your legal rights. Free Consultations for brain injury victims and their families.

Dave Duerson Had Brain Damage Due to Repetitive Head Trauma

By Tom Kiley on May 4, 2011 - Comments off

The ex-NFL safety, Dave Duerson, who commited suicide in February, 2011, left a request for his brain to be examined for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Duerson suspected he suffered from the degenerative brain condition due to the repetitive concussions he had sustained during his NFL safety carreer.

Researchers at the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy confirmed that Duerson had a moderately advanced case of the degenerative disease caused by repeated head trauma before his death.

CTE can only be studied in a deseased brain, which explains why Duerson took his own life by shooting himself in the chest.

CTE in NFL Players

So far, the center has studied 15 deceased NFL players, including Duerson, for signs of CTE, and has confirmed 14  to have had the disease.

CTE can be diagnozed by the buildup of an abnormal protein in the brain. According to Robert Stern, an associate professor of neurology at Boston University and a director at the center, Duerson was the only one of the 15 to have felt ahead of time that he had the disease. He said Duerson began having symptoms about five years ago.

While tragic, hopefully Duerson’s story will help raise awareness of the long-term damage associated with repeat concussions to athletes in professional, collegiate, and youth sports.

Culture of Football Athletes May Need to Change to Prevent Concussions

By Tom Kiley on March 25, 2011 - Comments off

Football athletes are among those who suffer the most sports-related concussions and repeat concussions.

For years some NFL stars have suffered from chronic degenerative conditions related to concussions, such as dementias, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and Alzheimer’s disease.

Long-Term Effects of a Concussion

The danger of mild traumatic injuries such as concussions is the likelihood of repeating the injury. It is not yet clear why getting one concussion makes a person more prone to sustaining further concussions in the future, but the sports culture of football may have something to with it.

Football players are sometimes seen as superheroes, risking life and limb to win the game, and for many years concussions were laughed at as not serious enough injuries to prevent an athlete from returning to the field. Instead of preventing repeat blows to the head by removing a player from a game or practice the same day they suffer a concussion, coaches and even the athletes themselves have been known to persist in putting the game before the athlete’s health. Aggression was the name of the game.

According to a recent study published in Neurosurgery, football players who sustained three or more concussions were significantly more likely to develop depression and were five times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Why Helmets Cannot Protect from All Concussions

Athletes often count on their helmets to save them from a concussion, but even the best helmet in the world cannot prevent every concussion. Some concussions are caused by blows to the body that are so violent that still cause the head to accelerate and decelerate, so it doesn’t matter if that person was wearing a helmet or not.

In 2009, the NFL looked deeper into the dangers of further brain injury resulting from concussions, and made it their policy to stop players from returning to a game or practice on the same day they exhibited concussion symptoms.  

In 2010, the NFL went one step further by trying to minimize the aggression part of the game by instituting fines to players for particularly violent or flagrant hits, such as those to the head.

With the nation getting more interested in the long-term effects of concussions on a person’s life, we are confident that the sports culture will do even more to protect its players in the future.

If you have been injured due to a traumatic accident, call 1-800-410-2769 to speak with a Boston injury lawyer. Free Consultations.

What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?

By Tom Kiley on March 4, 2011 - Comments off

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative brain disease which is most commonly found in people who have suffered multiple concussions and other forms of head injury, such as professional athletes. Certain sports are more likely to be involved with generating CTE, such as boxing, football, ice hockey, wrestling, and other sports where the players are likely to experience head trauma.

A variant of CTE, dementia pugilistica, is primarily found in boxers.

Causes for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Mild traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions, repeated over time can result in the degeneration of brain tissue and the accumulation of tau protein. Tau proteins stabilize the microtubules in the brain cells. When tau proteins are defective, and no longer stabilize microtubules properly, they can result in dementias.

Symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

People affected with CTE may show symptoms of dementia such as:

  • memory loss,
  • aggression,
  • confusion, and
  • depression.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in the News

Several former NFL players have been diagnosed post-mortem with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Among them are the former Detroit Lions lineman Lou Creekmur, former Houston Oilers and Miami Dolphins linebacker John Grimsley, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Tom McHale, Chris Henry, the late Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver, and the former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson.

Duerson, who commited suicide in Februrary, 2011, was possibly the first former player to leave a specific request to have his brain examined before killing himself.

The Massachusetts brain injury lawyers at the Kiley Law Group offer free legal consultations to victims with brain injury. Call 978-474-8670 to schedule your free consultation. We are conveniently located in downtown Boston and on Main Street in Andover. Serving clients in all of Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.

Former Bears Safety Kills Himself, Asks His Brain To Be Studied

By Tom Kiley on March 1, 2011 - Comments off

Former NFL player, Dave Duerson, commited suicide last week, leaving a request to his family for his brain to be studied. News reports said that the Former Chicago Bears safety reportedly shot himself in the heart last week. The LA Times reported that if researchers find evidence of a chronic condition stemming from a head injury, it could be a turning point for the NFL when it comes to handling head injuries in players.

Duerson, who was 50 at the time of his death, took part in 4 Pro Bowls in his 11-year career in the NFL.

The LA Times reports that his brain tissue will be examined at the Boston University Centre for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), is a progressive degenerative disease typically found in people who have suffered multiple concussions, such as sports athletes. The presence of CTE can only be determined on a deceased brain. So Duerson’s last request is all the more meaningful.

CTE was also found in the brain tissue of another former NFL player, Andre Waters of the Philadelphia Eagles, after his 2006 suicide, as well as in other professional football players who committed suicide in the past few years.

The relationship between CTE and football injuries is a controversial topic. The condition has been repeatedly denied by most involved with the game, even including medical personnel, the LA Times report said.

If Duerson’s brain tissue shows the presence of CTE, the NFL will need to reconsider its approach to football head injuries, the treatment and more importantly, the prevention of repeated head injuries.

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