NFL players aren’t the only athletes sensitive to CTE
When one of the demands of any sport is that the athlete continually use their head for kicking and kicking, it is not surprising to see conditions such as concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) appear. One can only wonder how many athletes were affected by CTE before it was looked at now, both in the NFL and among athletes participating in different sports. Read on to find out more.
What is CTE?
CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a degeneration of the brain likely caused by repeated head trauma over an extended period of time. The condition is normally not diagnosed until an autopsy is performed, unless the case is severe. Not as much is known about the disease as scientists would like, but they believe that mental health and behavioral issues such as anxiety, depression and aggression first appear when the athlete has between 20 and 30 years old. It manifests itself later in the 1960s and 1970s as dementia. As science continues to study this phenomenon, they are looking for factors that might point to an earlier diagnosis.
What is the NFL doing to prevent the CTE?
It is difficult to know for sure how many players have suffered from CTE over the years. The sport was perhaps the most dangerous when protective gear came in the form of leather helmets. Today’s helmets are designed around player safety.
Perhaps the most significant change the NFL has made is the adoption of concussion protocols. The rules are strict and there are trained observers who attend games watching for the first signs of concussion. Once a player exhibits these signs, they are removed from play and examined. If it is determined that a player has suffered a concussion, they are kept away from play and all other activities until they have had a chance to recover.
Since the CTE was identified as a byproduct of the game, the NFL has suffered the loss of many beloved former players. The tragic suicide of former linebacker Junior Seau at the age of 43 is the result of CTE. It was the extent of the damage observed at the autopsy that highlighted the seriousness of this condition. Since Seau’s death, it has been discovered during the autopsies of 20 other former NFL players, including Frank Gifford, Aaron Hernandez, Ken Stabler, Andre Waters and Bubba Smith. He was believed to have contributed to the death of Lawrence Phillips.
Although it is difficult to diagnose, it is not impossible. Several retired NFL players have been diagnosed or are showing symptoms of CTE. The following players, to name a few, have been diagnosed or have exhibited these symptoms: Tony Dorsett, Brett Favre, Charlie Garner, Bernie Kosar, Dorsey Levins, Jim McMahon and Antwan Randel-El. Many other former NFL players have pledged to donate their brains to science in the hopes that one day we can not only develop a better understanding of the disease, but also find better ways to prevent it. .
CTE is prevalent in other sports – not just the NFL
The condition of CTE is not limited to the NFL. Players in other sports, such as hockey, boxing, and mixed martial arts (MMA) have also suffered. The condition was first identified in boxers in 1928. Head injuries are a common risk in the sport of boxing. Unlike the NFL, boxers are not required to wear protective helmets, although helmets would help prevent CTEs. The truth is that any violent sport can leave participants in a position where they can be prone to CTE. These other sports would do well to develop protocols like those adopted by the NFL.
It’s no surprise that MMA fighters have seen their fair share of traumatic brain injuries. Many veterans, like Spencer Fisher, find themselves struggling with an early disability. In response to Fisher’s warning about CTE, it appears to be an expected side effect of participating in the sport.
For some athletes, it doesn’t take repetitive trauma to the head to develop CTE. Ellie Furneaux was an accomplished member of Britain’s Skeleton Team when an accident left her with permanent brain damage. In Furneaux’s case, the crash that ended his career was not the first. She had already adjusted her training schedule due to the effects of a previous accident. While his case may be the only skeletal case we hear about, you have to consider that even skiers who have never worn a helmet before are now required to put on their protective gear before a race.
CTE research continues
Scientists will continue their studies on the human brain and the effects of brain trauma such as CTE. This degenerative disease will not go away as long as there is a possibility that an athlete will be seriously injured while playing their sport. As long as there is player-to-player contact in sport, whether it be in the course of the sport or an injury sustained during participation, there should be a number of future cases for scientists to investigate. This is one of the reasons why there is a mostly unspoken question regarding the necessity of violence in sport. To protect future generations, for sports like boxing and MMA to endure, protective gear could eventually be mandatory.
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