TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘CTE’

Brain Injury Resources CTE & Football (chronic traumatic encephalopathy )

Brain Injury Resources . . . CTE & Football

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Brain th-2The regular season of the NFL (National Football League) begins this week. Although American football can be exciting, we in the brain-injury community are very aware of the havoc that both concussive and sub-concussive head impacts play not only on the brain health of the pros, but also on the brain health of college and high school players (1). We are especially sensitive to the high risk of the trusting and still-developing young players in Pop Warner leagues (2, 3).th

There has been a growing public awareness of the brain disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which can develop from hits to the ctehead and lead to “memory loss, confusion, impaired judgement, impulse control problems, aggression, depression and progressive dementia.” Some players have retired early (4, 5). Former players have sued or are suing the NFL (6). There is still a great deal of ignorance about CTE, but much research has been done and is being continued vigorously. This article tells us some basic facts that we should know.

Here is a brief outline from the article:

“Concussions in the NFL are more widespread than we thought

“An estimated 96 percent of deceased NFL players had CTE

“Researchers are working on a test for living players

“The NFL has donated $0 to this important new brain injury study”

I urge you to read the article for the details.

 

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit: . . . . . . Wanting A “Sound Mind,” 30-Year-Old Football Player Retires

Wanting A “Sound Mind,” 30-Year-Old Football Player Retires

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

husain_abdullah

Husain Abdullah – NFL Player

For seven years, Husain Abdullah played football in the National Football League (NFL), the premier professional football league in the United States. For four years, Abdullah, a safety, played with the Minnesota Vikings, and, for three years, he played with the Kansas City Chiefs. He graciously thanked both teams for allowing him to play. In the 2015 season, he had the fifth concussion of his career. While he was recovering, he thought about his many life-goals. Husain realized that he would need a “sound mind” to achieve his goals.

The research showing a link between the head trauma of football and the neurodegenerative disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is thought-provoking, and it has several players concerned. Even the NFL has admitted that there is a link between playing football and CTE, although the league later tried to downplay its comment. (CTE, originally known as “dementia pugilistica,” had only been seen in the brains of some boxers.

Dr. Bennet Omalu -

Dr. Bennet Omalu –

Dr. Bennet Omalu was the first to find the disease elsewhere – in a football player. Dr. Omalu renamed the disease “CTE.” Dr. Omalu’s discovery is the subject of the December 2015 movie Concussion, starring Will Smith. The real-life story is told in the PBS Frontline documentary, League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis – available free online.)

Abdullah’s retirement follows other early retirements, most notably that of San Francisco 49er star rookie linebacker, Chris Borland, who cited the high risk of brain disease as his reason for retiring after playing only one year. Another rookie, Green Bay Packer wide receiver Adrian Coxson, retired after getting a severe concussion in practice and being told that the next hit might seriously affect his brain function or kill him.

Abdullah Husain - NFL Player

Abdullah Husain – NFL Player

It remains to be seen if Husain Abdullah’s retirement will be the last early retirement in the NFL due to football’s risk to the brain. (Full story)

 

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On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” with Author, Jim Proebstle

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road”

with

Author, Jim Proebstle

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

images-1

 

Jim Proebstle, author of “Unintended Impact: One Athlete’s Journey From Concussions in Amateur Football to CTE Dementia,” tells the story of his older brother, Dick Proebstle, who didn’t get the fame and fortune of some NFL Football players, but did get the repercussions as he received countless head injuries while playing high school and college football.

Dick’s life went from the stars to an abyss over the course of 50 years. He lost so much without his knowing or understanding why. In fact, his children and family didn’t understand his decline either. Jim Proebstle 1It wasn’t until CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) came to the forefront when neuropathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu  discovered the disease in the autopsied brain of 50-year-old Mike Webster, a once-upon-a-time revered Pittsburgh Steeler whose life unexpectedly declined soon after retirement. This left Webster homeless and exhibiting abnormal behaviors. Soon after, the brains of many other deceased NFL players were examined and various degrees of (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) were also found. Dr. Omalu’s discovery began to open eyes of many other scientists and Boston University began a study. 89 of the 93 donated NFL player brains, were found to have CTE, which explained to the families the many bizarre behaviors their loved ones were exhibiting before they died.

Jim Proebstle Unintended Impact BookJim wrote his book, “Unintended Impact” to not only honor his brother, but also to  raise awareness of the dangers of all head injuries. Jim also authored two other books, “Fatal Incident” and “In the Absence of Honor.” You can find any of Jims’ books at amazon.com

If you missed this show with Jim Proebstle, author of “Unintended Impact: One Athlete’s Journey from Concussions in Amateur Football to CTE Dementia” on “Another Fork in the Road” on March 20th, 2016, don’t fret. You can listen to the archived show here. Click the link below.

To learn more about Jim Proebstle, please visit his website.

See you “On the Air!”

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” with author, Jim Proebstle

 

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So, Whaddya Think? . . . . . Football Puts Children’s Brains at Risk

So, Whaddya Think?

Football Puts Children’s Brains at Risk

by

David Figurski and Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Note: This is our third opinion essay on brain trauma and American football. The first and second were published on this blog on December 17th and December 26th, respectively.)

 

So Whaddya Think Brain th-4Lack of awareness of new knowledge has allowed society to continue what some of us now know to be dangerous practices with respect to children. To understand what we mean, watch these short videos of children practicing or playing American football (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

The danger to the brains of children in the videos is readily apparent to us (video, story). Parents often believe a brain injury is rare. But the evidence indicates otherwise. The hundreds of sub-concussive hits that a player of American football receives each season can result in the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE can lead to loss of memory, loss of cognitive ability, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), aggressive behavior, depression, and suicidal thoughts. It has been seen in the brains of high school football players. In fact, individuals who started playing organized American football at a young age seem to have a higher rate of CTE.

Bennet Omalu

Dr. Bennet Omalu – neuropathologist – discovered CTE

Recently, Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered CTE in an American football player by studying the brain of Hall-of-Fame center Mike Webster, was the author of a recent New York Times Op-Ed entitled Don’t Let Kids Play Football. In an interview for zap2it.com, Dr. Omalu said, “As a modern society it’s our duty to protect our most vulnerable, most precious gifts of life: our children. This is where I stand.”

(We highly recommend your seeing the newly released movie Concussion, which will bring about more awareness of the danger to the brain from playing American football. The movie tells the true story of how the National Football League – NFL – tried to dismiss Dr. Bennet Omalu’s discovery of the connection of brain disease and the playing of American football. Former players are suing the NFL, claiming that the NFL knew of the dangers, but did not inform the players.)kid-football-players-clip-art

In the documentary Head Games (online and free), we are reminded that children are not miniature adults. A child’s head is larger than an adult’s in proportion to his or her body. The neck muscles are not proportionately stronger, so a child’s head is more vulnerable than is an adult’s head. Brain development continues until at least age 14. (Some neurologists think brain development may continue longer.) In addition, the neurons in a developing brain are not yet fully myelinated. Recent research has shown that a concussion in a child impairs brain function for two years. The risk to the brain is the major reason why US Soccer banned heading for children 10 and under.

George Visger

Former San Francisco 49er – George Visger – TBI Survivor

On August 16th, Donna conducted a radio interview with George Visger, a former defensive lineman for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers on her radio show, “Another Fork in the Road,” on the Brain Injury Radio Network. Visger stated that youth football might ultimately end because of the eventual high cost of liability insurance (minutes 30:25-33:45; we think you will also find the intervals 5:40-15:55 and 39:40-42:25 interesting because of their contents – children and football). Dr. Omalu, the discoverer of CTE in an American football player, says in Frontline’s documentary The League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis that he was told if 10% of mothers think playing football is too dangerous, it will mean the end of football.

The consequences of a brain injury can be especially devastating, even fatal, to a young player (video 1, video 2, story of the suicide of a teenage football player). The risk of brain injury from high-impact sports, especially American football, is significant even for adults, but an adult can make his or her own decision to play. In contrast, children rely on parents and Brain in Helmetcoaches. No parent would deliberately put a child’s life-trajectory at risk, but what if the parent lacks awareness? The good news is that apparently society’s awareness is growing quickly. Peter Landesman, the director of Concussion, said that Pop Warner football enrollment is down by more than 30%. (Pop Warner football is for children aged 5 to 16.) The movie Concussion will further increase society’s awareness of the danger of concussions and sub-concussive hits, show what CTE is, tell Dr. Bennet Omalu’s story of his discovery of the relationship of CTE and American football, and show Dr. Omalu’s struggle with the NFL.

Healthy and Damaged Brain

Left – Healthy Brain — Right – Brain with CTE

It is also the brain-injury community’s responsibility to speak out to show society how life-altering a brain injury is.

 

 

 

So, Whaddya Think?

Let’s get a dialogue going. Post your comments in the Comment Section. Directions are below.

So . . . what do you think? Is there something you are passionate about in this Brain Injury (BI) world? Do you want to be heard? Your opinion matters! You can SPEAK OUT! on “So Whaddya Think?”

Simply send me your opinion, and I will format it for publication. Posts may be short, but please send no more than 500 words. Send to Neelyf@aol.com

I hope to HEAR from you soon.

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So, Whaddya Think? “Concussion” Now in Theaters

So, Whaddya Think?

“Concussion” Now in Theaters

by

David Figurski and Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

(Note: This is our second opinion essay about Dr. Bennet Omalu and his research with brain trauma. The first was published on this blog on December 17th.)

So Whaddya Think Brain th-4The much-anticipated movie, Concussion (trailer), is making current and former players of American football, their families, parents, fans, and coaches think about what is really happening in a sport that has become a large part of American culture. The movie has the same goal as we in the brain-injury community have – greater awareness of the delicate Concussion Movie 2.jpgnature of the brain and the ramifications of brain damage. The movie was released on Christmas Day, but it has made much news before its release.

The movie, which unsurprisingly is not sanctioned by the National Football League (NFL), tells the true story of the Nigerian pathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu, and his discovery of the relationship of a neurodegenerative disease, which Dr. Omalu named “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” (CTE), and American football. Dr. Omalu studied the brain of Hall-of-Fame center, Mike Webster,

MikeWebsternfl

Mike Webster – Pittsburgh Steeler Pro Football Hall of Fame

who died at age 50 homeless and with dementia. As shown in the Frontline documentary, League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis (available free online), the movie shows how the multibillion-dollar NFL didn’t want to hear of Dr. Omalu’s discovery. The league’s questionable committee on concussions immediately attacked Dr. Omalu. It is a classic “David-vs.-Goliath” story.

David & Goliath.jpg

David & Goliath

(Dr. Omalu said in his Frontline interview, “You can’t go against the NFL. They’ll squash you.”) Former players have sued the NFL, arguing that the NFL knew of the dangers to the brain, but didn’t inform the players. In a class-action lawsuit, the NFL has recently settled for approximately $1 billion in medical expenses, but that settlement is being appealed by former players as inadequate.

Concussion Movie

Dr. Bennet Omalu – pathologist – discovered CTE with Actor, Will Smith

Will Smith plays Dr. Omalu in Concussion. Will Smith, a former football fan whose son played high school football, recently admitted that he has not watched a full game of football since he made this movie. Peter Landesman, the movie’s director, played football into his sophomore year of college, but, knowing what he knows now, he would not let his children play the game.

The movie is a “must-see.” (video)

 

So, Whaddya Think?

Let’s get a dialogue going. Post your comments in the Comment Section. Directions are below.

So . . . what do you think? Is there something you are passionate about in this Brain Injury (BI) world? Do you want to be heard? Your opinion matters! You can SPEAK OUT! on “So Whaddya Think?”

Simply send me your opinion, and I will format it for publication. Posts may be short, but please send no more than 500 words. Send to Neelyf@aol.com

I hope to HEAR from you soon.

As I say after each post:

Feel free to leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow Me Via eMail” on the right sidebar of your screen.anim0014-1_e0-1

If you like my blog, click the “Like” button under this post.

If you REALLY like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it intact with your enemies. That works for me too!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . . Frank Gifford’s Brain Showed CTE

Frank Gifford’s Brain Showed CTE

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

newsboy-thFrank Gifford died at 84 of natural causes. Because he had always been concerned with player safety and helped to found the National Football League Players Association, his family donated his brain to science for study.

Frank Gifford, a beloved running back in the 1950s and 1960s, played for the New York Giants of the National Football League.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and after he retired, he became a popular and an award-winning sportscaster for Monday Night Football.  Even though Gifford showed no outward signs of neurodegenerative disease, his family said in a released Frank Gifford footballstatement that he experienced symptoms. As a running back, Gifford endured many sub-concussive hits, which many neurologists now believe contribute to neurodegenerative disease. In 1960, Gifford was knocked unconscious by a brutally hard tackle.  That concussion caused the end of his season, and he did not play the next year.

The study of Frank Gifford’s brain revealed that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease found in the autopsied brains of people who played contact sports. So far, 88 of 92 brains of professional players of American football have shown CTE (1, 2). Gifford’s brain makes that statistic 89 of 93.

What makes Frank Gifford’s brain special is that Gifford died of natural causes. The other players whose brains tested positive Frank Giffordfor CTE showed symptoms of brain disease. (In fact, some of the deaths were from suicide.) The claim has been made that the group that was almost entirely positive for CTE was biased. But Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at Boston University’s CTE Center and the person who studied most of the brains, pointed out that, even in a biased sample, the number of brains testing positive for CTE is ridiculously high. Frank Gifford’s brain would not be considered part of the biased sample. (Gifford showed no outward signs of brain disease.) Yet Frank Gifford’s brain tested positive for CTE. This latest result is consistent with Dr. McKee’s worry that CTE is common among players of American football. (Full story)

 

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

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Brain Injury Resources . . . . . . Will Smith’s Movie, Concussion, Based on True Story

Will Smith’s Movie, Concussion, Based on True Story 

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Brain th-2Concussion is scheduled to be in theaters in late December, but it is already making headlines (review and trailer). The National Football League (NFL) knows that its Achilles heel is the high risk of brain injury to its players, not only from documented concussions, which are likely to be far fewer in number than actual concussions, but also from the repeated sub-concussive hits, which many neurologists believe contribute to brain injury. Former players are concerned (video of the song Final Drive by former NFL star Kyle Turley), and current players are becoming concerned. Recently a promising rookie linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers quit after one season over the fear of brain injury.

concussion-movie-nfl-20150903

Concussion

Concussion is based on the true story of the discovery of the brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) by Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian pathologist who did the autopsy of Hall-of-Fame Pittsburgh Steelers center, Mike Webster. Dr. Omalu first saw CTE during his study of Webster’s brain. Webster was homeless, depressed, and suffering from dementia when he died at age 50. Dr. Omalu’s story, which is the basis of Concussion, is given in the PBS Frontline documentary League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis. I urge everyone to watch the documentary before seeing Concussion. The 2-hour PBS documentary is available online at no cost. In Concussion, Will Smith plays Dr. Omalu.

Omalu & Smith

Dr. Bennet Omalu & Will Smith

This movie may change what you think about American football and the NFL. Knowing that brain disease is a major problem for the future of the game, the NFL tried to discredit Dr. Omalu and his provocative work. The NFL had previously established a questionable committee of doctors to study mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBIs), otherwise known as concussions. The NFL committee published papers claiming that MTBIs, even multiple MTBIs, were not a problem for players. (The conclusions are contradicted by current data. Also, some scientists question the validity of the published studies.)

NFL LogoDr. Omalu thought that the NFL would be very interested in his data. Instead, the NFL’s MTBI committee immediately attacked Dr. Omalu and his findings. At one point, the committee tried to get Dr. Omalu to retract the paper. Going against the multibillion dollar NFL has a steep price. Dr. Omalu has stated that he wishes he had never discovered CTE.

To date, CTE has been found in 88 of 92 autopsied NFL brains (1, 2). The currently accepted way that CTE is identified is by studying the brain postmortem. The major criticism of the postmortem analyses that were done is that the brains came from former players who already showed signs of brain disease. In other words, the claim is that the sample is biased. Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at Boston University’s CTE Center, studied most of the brains. She argues that the results would be extraordinary even in a biased sample.

AnnMcKeeMD1111

Dr. Ann McKee – neurolpathologist at Boston University

With a recent advance in technology, it seems that the bias criticism can soon be put to rest. Dr. Omalu is an author on a recent publication, in which neuroscientists from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and from the University of Chicago showed that CTE can be accurately diagnosed in a living person by a special PET (positron emission tomography) scan. If such scans were taken of all the current players, we would know if CTE is rare among players, as the NFL would like players and fans to believe, or if it’s relatively common, as Dr. Ann McKee believes.

Until that happens, we are left to decide about the risk of brain disease in players of American football on the basis of what we know. Concussion tells the little-known story of Dr. Omalu and the discovery of CTE. With this movie, we will be more informed and better able to evaluate the risk.

Omalu

Dr. Bennet Omalu – pathologist

As I say after each post:

Feel free to leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow Me Via eMail” on the right sidebar of your screen.anim0014-1_e0-1

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My name is Michelle Munt and this is my story about surviving a brain injury and what I continue to learn about it. This is for other survivors and their loved ones, but also to raise awareness of what can happen to those in an accident. This invisible injury too often goes undiagnosed and it can be difficult to find information about it. I will talk about things that have helped me as I continue to recover and invite others to see if it works for them too.

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