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Controversy of CTE and Relation to Concussions

Created by Marshall Vandruff
24656 Via Carlos
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677-7604
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For Jim Parkhurst at Ingram Micro.
Created by Marshall Vandruff 24656 Via Carlos Laguna Niguel, CA 92677-7604 (714) 360-9300 For Jim Parkhurst at Ingram Micro.
Created by Marshall Vandruff 24656 Via Carlos Laguna Niguel, CA 92677-7604 (714) 360-9300 For Jim Parkhurst at Ingram Micro.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a condition of brain damage that causes the brain to gradually deteriorate and lose its mass. Photo attribution to Isaac Mao

by Omran Hamidi

What is CTE?

The condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has sparked controversy throughout sports and all around the world. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a condition of brain damage that causes the brain to gradually deteriorate and lose its mass.

Discovery of CTE

A lot of doctors are still skeptical about the condition and believe there is not enough evidence for the diagnosis. The doctor who discovered CTE, Dr. Bennet Omalu, believes that football-related injuries (numerous concussions) and dementia have played a key role into his discovery.

Researchers have studied the impact and speed of hits and tackles in football and overtime these researchers concluded that players who consistently tackled in the head area will most probably be diagnosed with CTE down the line.

Doctor’s Perspective

In a study published by Frontline, “A total of 87 out of 91 players were found to have the disease. The CTE research was carried out by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University.” The study also noted that 40 percent of the players were offensive or defensive linemen, who are subject to violent collisions on almost every play.

“Obviously this high percentage of living individuals is not suffering from CTE,” Dr. Ann McKee of the Mass. brain bank told PBS. “Playing football, and the higher the level you play football and the longer you play football, the higher your risk.”  

The impact of CTE usually occurs after a football player or boxer retires from the sport. Although there have not been any diagnostic criteria, the symptoms usually occur with severe migraines and drug abuse which plays a big role in one trying to get rid of the pain.  

Dr. Robert Stern, who is the Director of Clinical Research at Boston University’s CTE Center, believes that “The symptoms of CTE generally do not present until years or decades after the brain trauma occurred or after one stops actively playing contact sports. While most concussion symptoms resolve within a few weeks, the symptoms can last for months or, in severe cases, even years. When this occurs, it is called post-concussion syndrome. Post-concussion syndrome is different than CTE, and the symptoms of post-concussive syndrome usually resolve years or decades before the onset of CTE symptoms”.

Student-athlete perspective

The only way CTE became nationally recognized was by the film “Concussion” starring Will Smith, who played the role of Bennet Omalu. The impact of the film is taking a toll on youth, high school and pro football. Parents are now more alert of head injuries and some are even not letting their children play.

One high school player John Castello, has seen how football may hurt him in the future. After watching the film, Castello turned down several football scholarships. “I watched interviews with Dr. Omalu and that kind of really gave me some insight onto what could happen if I kept on playing football and some of the injuries that could occur,” Castello said. “And after I watched the movie I really thought, hey there could be some repercussions to playing football if I would get a concussion or another head injury.”

Professional standpoint

On the contrary, the National Football League has taken a stand against concussions and the league knows that they have make the game safer.  “We have incredible progress that has been made, not only in rule changes, but also in what we saw today with materials and protection that will prevent these injuries from happening. From protocols that we implemented, research we are doing, coaching changes we have had, in taking certain techniques out of the game. What you are seeing is an incredible amount of progress and real impact”, said Roger Goodell on the film Concussion.

Although research is still taking place, parents, coaches and professional leagues have to take notice of the effect of the physical harm and have to stand up.

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