An NFL executive admitted that there is a link between chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and head injuries sustained by football players in the NFL. Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety, made the admission when he appeared before a congressional committee where concussions were the topic of discussion.
The admission by the NFL executive came after Representative Jan Schakowsky asked him, “Do you think there is a link between football and degenerative brain disorders like CTE?”
Jeff Miller responded, “Well, certainly, Dr. McKee’s research shows that a number of retired NFL players were diagnosed with CTE, so the answer to that question is certainly ‘yes,’ but there are also a number of questions that come with that.”
Representative Schakowsky wanted a clearer and more definitive answer.
Schakowsky asked again, “Is there a link?”
Miller succinctly answered, “Yes. Sure.”
What Is CTE?
CTE is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes where impacts to the head are common. Over time, a person who has CTE will begin to lose mass in their brain. Even though parts of the brain lose mass and begin to atrophy, other areas of the brain have been known to swell and increase in size.
CTE patients have also been found to have an increase in a protein known as “tau.” This particular protein is seen to stabilize neurons, but it may become defective, which leads to neurons not working in their proper way.
Symptoms of CTE vary depending on multiple factors. Memory loss, strange and erratic behavior, unable to properly judge situations, periods of aggressive behavior and/or depression, and dementia are some of the most common symptoms associated with CTE.
Diagnosing CTE while a person is still alive is non-existent. The main reason for this is that they symptoms associated with CTE mimic the symptoms of diseases that are more common. Some of the diseases that are wrongly given to people with CTE are Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or the symptoms are just written off by doctors as the normal progression of aging.
CTE is still relatively new due to the fact that the first case was diagnosed just 14 years ago by Dr. Bennet I. Omalu and Dr. Julian Bailes. As stated before, CTE has only been diagnosed during an autopsy. That may soon change now that a grant given to UCLA is being used to determine how much of the tau protein exists in a person who has had multiple head impacts.
- Junior Seau – NFL Football Player – Died at 43-years-old – Suicide
- Jovan Belcher – NFL Football Player – Died at 25-years-old – Suicide
- Mike Webster – NFL Football Player – Died at 50-years-old – Heart Attack
- Justin Strzelczyk – NFL Football Player – Died at 36-years-old – Car Accident
- Chris Henry – NFL Football Player – Died at 26-years-old – Traumatic Fall
- Terry Long – NFL Football Player – Died at 45-years-old – Suicide
- Andre Waters – NFL Football Player – Died at 44-years-old – Suicide
- Tom McHale – NFL Football Player – Died at 45-years-old – Drug Overdose/Suicide
- Chris Benoit – Professional Wrestler – Died at 40-years-old – Suicide
- Bob Probert – NHL Hockey Player – Died at 45-years-old – Heart Failure
- Ryan Freel – MLB Baseball Player – Died at 36-years-old – Suicide
This list includes just some of the professional athletes that have been confirmed to have CTE. Boston University neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee personally examined and diagnosed CTE in 90 former football players.
Concussion studies have impacted sports from the professional level all the way down to the children’s level. Improvements in helmets and concussion diagnosis are being done in the hopes that head injuries will be on the decline in sports where impacts to the head are likely to occur.
Now that the NFL has admitted a link between football and CTE, what do you think they will do?
[Photo by Bill Chan/AP, File]