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View Full Version : CTE Should No Longer Only Be Considered An NFL Concern


CloakNNNdagger
12-09-2012, 01:29 PM
There has been so much talk about CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in NFL players. But I have long spoken about this problem not being an NFL phenomenon, but a cumulative phenomenon that is begun in college, high school and even as far back as pee wee elementary school football.

The number one cause of death and disability in children and teenagers is traumatic brain injury. Despite this fact, this clinical problem has received limited research investigation. Given the remarkable recovery often seen after focal childhood brain injuries (stroke, hemorrhage, surgical excision), there is a common misconception that the younger brain is always more resilient. However, increasing evidence suggests that this assumption is incorrect. First, traumatic brain injury (TBI) represents a diffuse type of brain injury, and both clinical and laboratory studies suggest that the immature brain is less capable of recovering from such damage. Second, there appear to be developmental windows wherein diffuse injury can result in lost potential; this loss may only be detectable at a later stage of brain maturation. It is important to understanding these complex concepts of TBI sustained during development.

The developing brain is a unique physiological substrate and is generally believed to be more resilient to injury than the adult brain. However, in recent years, this dogma has been increasingly challenged. It is more correct to state that the immature brain does have some inherent advantages with regards to injury response and recovery; however, it also has clear vulnerabilities that are to some extent based upon the underlying developmental processes ongoing at the time of injury.

It is known that mechanisms of injury also vary based on age. Toddlers are significantly more likely to sustain TBI as a result of a fall, while older children and teenagers are more likely to experience TBI due to vehicular accidents and sports.

The NFL-oriented chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) that we have been hearing so much about has compared brains to those in "normal" non-NFL persons. But they have not paid attention to making control "normals" those who have played football short of at the NFL level.

There are deeply buried stories like this 21 year old college football junior who hanged himself (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/sports/14football.html?_r=0)........and was found to have CTE at time of autopsy.

Now, in a study which was released just this week, there is strong corroborating (short of "proven," just as in the NFL cases) evidence that our football-playing sons and grandsons may be being placed at risk way before any talk of reaching the NFL.

High School Football Can Lead to Long-Term Brain Damage, Study Says (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/schooled_in_sports/2012/12/long-term_brain_damage_found_in_six_former_hs_football_ players.html) [It would be very worthwhile to read this piece in its entirety as it presents some interesting statistics which include numerous individual case studies.]


I've chosen to present this information as food for thought not only for parents, but for anyone interested in this contemporary NFL hot bed subject surrounding concussions and their potential long-term consequences.