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CTE found in 110 of 111 donated NFL players brains

PapaL

Loose Screw
I have a 15 year old son, my only child. We were talking about sports this year and he asked my opinion on playing soccer vs football. Like most of you, I grew up in Texas. Football has always held a special place in my heart but without flinching I told him to play soccer. CTE worries me. I can deal with broken bones/ligaments, brain injuries I cannot. Reading that article, I firmly stand by the decision.
 

Texecutioner

Hall of Fame
I have a 15 year old son, my only child. We were talking about sports this year and he asked my opinion on playing soccer vs football. Like most of you, I grew up in Texas. Football has always held a special place in my heart but without flinching I told him to play soccer. CTE worries me. I can deal with broken bones/ligaments, brain injuries I cannot. Reading that article, I firmly stand by the decision.
I can't believe that I'm agreeing and starting to feel the same way. I have a son that is about to be two, and I thin I'm going to keep him away from football as long as I can. Just way to much information out there now about their developing brains catching these symptoms from head and body trauma from the hits, and then there is that one and a million type of weird play where someone gets paralyzed or dead in some cases. Soccer it is.
 

Double Barrel

Moderator
Staff member
Contributor's Club
I have a 15 year old son, my only child. We were talking about sports this year and he asked my opinion on playing soccer vs football. Like most of you, I grew up in Texas. Football has always held a special place in my heart but without flinching I told him to play soccer. CTE worries me. I can deal with broken bones/ligaments, brain injuries I cannot. Reading that article, I firmly stand by the decision.
I didn't let my son play until public school (7th grade) for a couple of reasons. First is that I don't trust "dad coaches" who are not trained on proper tackling and blocking techniques, and are not trained on how to identify and treat potential head injuries. Watching just an episode of Friday Night Tykes shows this problem all too clearly.

The second is the studies about the developing brains of 6-10 year olds are showing serious concerns about contact sports. He played flag up until 7th grade in order to get some skill position experience, and most important, to have fun.

When he did start playing in 7th grade, we had one rule: your season is immediately over if you suffer any kind of head trauma or injury. No exceptions.

btw, CTE is a concern in soccer, too. CTE found in former soccer players, study shows
 

xtruroyaltyx

Hall of Fame
It's good that this stuff is coming to light.

Just a decade ago this wasn't even a big issue. I only played to the college level, but I know that my brain probably has some issues but nothing too severe that I can't deal with. I can remember one high school game where I was playing DT and me and this Guard was going at it all game long just firing off into each other like crash dummies banging heads all game long.

I can only imagine what it's like for guys who play as early as you can start playing tackle in little league all the way to several years in the NFL....
 

PapaL

Loose Screw
I didn't let my son play until public school (7th grade) for a couple of reasons. First is that I don't trust "dad coaches" who are not trained on proper tackling and blocking techniques, and are not trained on how to identify and treat potential head injuries. Watching just an episode of Friday Night Tykes shows this problem all too clearly.

The second is the studies about the developing brains of 6-10 year olds are showing serious concerns about contact sports. He played flag up until 7th grade in order to get some skill position experience, and most important, to have fun.

When he did start playing in 7th grade, we had one rule: your season is immediately over if you suffer any kind of head trauma or injury. No exceptions.

btw, CTE is a concern in soccer, too. CTE found in former soccer players, study shows

Thanks for sharing that DB. This was the most concerning part of that article:

None of the players studied had experienced significant concussions during their careers, indicating that repetitive blows to the head -- such as through hitting other players, the ball or goalposts -- are playing a key role.
 

CloakNNNdagger

Hall of Fame
Huge problem is selection bias folks with concerns over their young men who have died donate, those with no worries don't.

It's still very troubling.

Agree on both points.

****************************************************************************************************

Conclusions drawn after Boston University CTE study are misleading, troubling: Toronto neuropathologist
By John Kryk, Toronto Sun
First posted: Thursday, July 27, 2017 03:34 PM EDT | Updated: Thursday, July 27, 2017 09:53 PM EDT


FOXBORO, Mass. — Scenario: Over the course of a few years, 111 kids at an amusement park are taken to first-aid, nearly all complaining of queasy stomachs. Paramedics diagnose 110 with nausea.

Conclusion: More than 99% of kids who ever go to an amusement park get nauseated.

Right?

Of course not.

But this is the kind of unsupported extrapolation many have been making since Tuesday, when the latest study co-authored by a leading brain-disease researcher, Boston University’s Dr. Ann McKee, was released. She and 26 other medical researchers identified the neuro-degenerative malady CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) posthumously in 110 of the 111 donated brains of one-time National Football League players.

More than 99%.

“My hope is we’ll stop arguing about whether or not this is a problem, or whether or not it needs to be addressed,” said McKee, director of BU’s CTE Center.

The world’s foremost experts on traumatic brain injuries agree the matter needs to be addressed, and urgently. International experts just won’t go as far as to chain-link concussions to CTE.

After the fifth international conference on concussion in sport last autumn, such experts reached the following consensus conclusion, released publicly in April, which stops far short of definitively linking traumatic head hits to brain diseases: “There is still much to learn on the potential association between concussion/recurrent head trauma and long-term effects. There continues to be a need for additional research to fully understand the cause-effect relationship established between concussion and CTE.”

Does such a cause-effect relationship exist? If so, to what degree? And how prevalent is CTE in all retired NFL players? No researchers can say.

By her own admission, McKee has not yet studied a random sample of former football players, but rather a “convenience sample” consisting primarily of only the donated brains of one-time players, nearly all of whom exhibited varying degrees of brain-disease symptoms before dying.

What about the brains of all those former NFL players who exhibited no such brain maladies in later life? Or brains randomly selected from the general population? What if the brains of those who never played football or any contact sports also exhibit seriously high levels of CTE? And to what degree, if any, did substance abuse exacerbate CTE in the brains of those McKee and the others examined?

To ask these questions is not to undermine the excellent, ground-breaking work of McKee and her researchers this decade. And especially the work of her partner, Dr. Chris Nowinski, founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation and co-founder of McKee’s brain bank, who for years has been the sharpest critic of feet-dragging pro sports leagues, as well as the loudest advocate for the wide implementation of safer, more conservative protocols for concussion diagnosis and return-to-play at all levels of contact sports.

Nowinski and McKee have undoubtedly saved lives and aided the concussion recoveries of countless athletes, because of their tireless advocacy in raising awareness of concussions and CTE in general. It’s just that not all experts in their field concur with all of their conclusions.

Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati is a Toronto neuropathologist. She is an associate professor at University of Toronto, and works at both Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and the Canadian Concussion Centre. She herself has examined dozens of brains of former professional athletes.

In a phone interview from Toronto, Hazrati told Postmedia on Wednesday night that she has not found nearly the high incidence of CTE as McKee and the others. What’s more, Hazrati said she’s troubled by the study’s lumping of brains showing miniscule traces of CTE (Stages 1 and 2) with much more severe Stage 3-4 cases, and that as a result of the shocking 99% prevalence figure, she is concerned media and the public are inferring an unsupported conclusion that not only football, but all such contact sports, are extremely dangerous for all participants.

“When you look at their numbers (in the study), quite a bit of their CTE diagnoses are just, like, that tiny little spot,” Hazrati said. “Stage 1 means that they’ve looked through the whole brain and have found one tiny little spot where there are a few cells positive with tau protein (a primary CTE marker). In that whole brain there are very limited amounts of tau, and in one small area.

“If they call that CTE, fine. But then they bunch it with the ones with more severe, advanced CTE, and they call the whole bunch CTE. It’s like counting burn patients but even including me, who has a little burn at the very tip of my finger, and also everyone who has been burned somehow even any little bit, and lumping us all in with the severely burned.”

Nowinski, one of the study’s authors, takes great exception to Hazrati’s comments on this particular issue.

“I think Dr. Hazrati is severely mischaracterizing the study,” Nowinski said in an email to Postmedia. “Only 11 of 177 cases (6%) were Stage 1, so while a neuropathologist can complain that they think they have a better minimum criteria for diagnosis, it has no implication on the overall findings.

“A burn on the tip of your finger, which is an injury and does not turn into a progressive disease, is a completely inappropriate analogy for early-stage CTE. Cancer is more accurate.”

In her own examinations of brains of deceased professional athletes, Hazrati said she has detected less prevalence of CTE, and less severe cases, than her American counterpart.

“What I’m seeing, in ballpark numbers, is 30% of our cases have some CTE pathology,” said Hazrati, who underscored that her research receives no funding of any kind from any professional sports body. “Most are basically very low-stage pathology. I’ve got CFL players, I’ve got hockey players and I’ve got brains from some other athletes — rugby players, wrestlers, boxers, sports like that. So it’s a mix. But they’re all professional athletes.

“We don’t see that volume of advanced cases that have been reported (by McKee). Only 30% of our brains have CTE. And about 30% don’t have anything.”

Bottom line, Hazrati said, is this: “None of these post-mortem brain autopsies are going to solve the CTE (mystery), at all. You cannot solve the cause of CTE by looking at brains of deceased people.”

As yet, there is no way to detect CTE in the living.

“That first step is not solved yet — whether there’s a definitive link to concussions,” Hazrati said. “So how can you even think about who’s the most susceptible? Who’s not? What age is the worst? Just looking at these brains (posthumously), you cannot say any of that. It’s just impossible at this point.”

Hazrati isn’t the only internationally respected neuro-scientist whose findings appear at odds with that of McKee and company.

For instance, Dr. William Stewart — a lead neuropathologist at a hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, with diagnostic and research specialties in forensic neuropathology (especially traumatic brain injuries) — co-authored a study published earlier this year that examined the long-term health outcomes of those who suffered repeated concussions in elite-level rugby, a sport arguably at least as dangerous as American football.

Researchers compared the cognitive function of 52 living, retired former male Scottish international rugby players — who’d suffered an average of a whopping 14 concussions apiece — against 29 non-rugby players of similar age.

“There were no significant associations between number of concussions and performance on cognitive tests,” the study found. What’s more, although “persisting symptoms attributed to concussion” were more common in rugby players who’d suffered more than nine concussions apiece, “these symptoms were not perceived to affect social or work functioning.”

The NFL issued this statement following the release of McKee’s report Tuesday: “We appreciate the work done by Dr. McKee and her colleagues for the value it adds in the ongoing quest for a better understanding of CTE. Case studies such as those compiled in this updated paper are important to further advancing the science and progress related to head trauma. The medical and scientific communities will benefit from this publication and the NFL will continue to work with a wide range of experts to improve the health of current and former NFL athletes.

“As noted by the authors, there are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE. The NFL is committed to supporting scientific research into CTE and advancing progress in the prevention and treatment of head injuries.”

Until researchers are able to study large, random samples of football players, including those without symptoms, as well as non-football players in the general population who were never concussed, it will be hard for any claims of widespread afflictions to hold up to scrutiny.

Indeed, Hazrati said we should all be careful to read closely what studies have found, and not connect more dots than medical scientists have provided.

It might help, then, to bear in mind that analogy of nauseated kids at amusement parks.

“That describes it pretty well, yes,” Hazrati said.
 

Wolf

100% Texan
Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports
Brady: It's nobody's business but mine if I had a concussion last season
David P. Woods Aug 4, 2017 11:05 AM
Tom Brady won't reveal whether he suffered a concussion last season because he doesn't believe it's anyone's business but his.

Speaking to reporters at New England Patriots training camp Friday, Brady wouldn't discuss his health and said that type of information is personal, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss.

The NFL, which requires players and teams to disclose concussions, would probably disagree.

Brady's wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, said on "CBS This Morning" in May that Brady did indeed suffer a concussion in 2016.

"He had a concussion last year," Bundchen said. "I mean he has concussions pretty much ... we don't talk about it. But he does have concussions. I don't really think it's a healthy thing for your body to go through that kind of aggression all the time. That cannot be healthy for you, right? I'm planning on having him be healthy and do a lot of fun things when we're like 100, I hope."

Brady appeared on the Patriots' injury report several times in 2016, but was never listed as having a concussion. In fact, he hasn't appeared on the injury report with a concussion in any of the past four seasons.
 

Carr Bombed

Hall of Fame
Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports
Brady: It's nobody's business but mine if I had a concussion last season
David P. Woods Aug 4, 2017 11:05 AM
Tom Brady won't reveal whether he suffered a concussion last season because he doesn't believe it's anyone's business but his.

Speaking to reporters at New England Patriots training camp Friday, Brady wouldn't discuss his health and said that type of information is personal, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss.

The NFL, which requires players and teams to disclose concussions, would probably disagree.

Brady's wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, said on "CBS This Morning" in May that Brady did indeed suffer a concussion in 2016.

"He had a concussion last year," Bundchen said. "I mean he has concussions pretty much ... we don't talk about it. But he does have concussions. I don't really think it's a healthy thing for your body to go through that kind of aggression all the time. That cannot be healthy for you, right? I'm planning on having him be healthy and do a lot of fun things when we're like 100, I hope."

Brady appeared on the Patriots' injury report several times in 2016, but was never listed as having a concussion. In fact, he hasn't appeared on the injury report with a concussion in any of the past four seasons.
I wonder if he gave Bundchen a good spanking for spilling the beans.
:drool:
 

CloakNNNdagger

Hall of Fame
Few can deny that head trauma in some players can have some contribution to the development of CTE, but it cannot be said that it is the sole contributor to its development. Both infantrycak and I have presented our concerns over sampling methods and conclusions drawn from the so-called "landmark" Boston University NFL player CTE study that was published back in July. Too many factors that could play into CTE's development have not been explored/pursued..........or have been buried. This article is worth reading in whole.

*******************************************************************************************************************

I'm a brain scientist and I let my son play football
Yahoo Sports Staff
Yahoo SportsSep 19, 2017, 8:57 AM

By Dr. Peter Cummings


My name is Peter Cummings. I am a forensic pathologist and a neuropathologist, which means I study brain trauma for a living. I am also a football coach and I let my 11-year-old son play football. I may be the only neuropathologist on Earth who lets his kid play football.

Coming to this decision was a serious undertaking and the result of many hours spent pouring over medical journals and football rulebooks.

Before I began this journey, football was banned in my house. I wouldn’t even watch it on TV because I didn’t want my son to see it and develop a desire to play. Despite my efforts, he discovered football via a video game. He immediately fell in love with the sport and I was forced to do some serious soul searching: Should I allow him to pursue his interest and play?

Honestly, I was scared of CTE.

CTE stands for “chronic traumatic encephalopathy”; in real words it means damage to the brain caused by repetitive injury. The hallmark of CTE is the deposition of a protein called ‘tau’ in the brain. Tau has a number of functions, including stabilizing the structure of nerve cells. When nerves are injured, tau builds up and can cause problems.

People are coming away from the constant media barrage with the belief that concussions are the sole and direct cause of CTE, most or all football players have CTE, and CTE has led football players to become violent, commit suicide or develop dementia.

I had the same impression before I decided to look a little deeper. But when I dove into the published literature regarding CTE, I discovered the scientific evidence to support the media’s narrative was lacking; in fact, I found bodies of evidence to the contrary and a whole other side to the science that is largely ignored.

I’m not alone. A number of members of the medical and research communities are also voicing serious doubts about the current state of the science linking concussion and CTE.

In fact, it’s not entirely clear if CTE is unique to traumatic brain injury. CTE-like pathology has also been seen in the brains of people who’ve died of epilepsy, without any history of head trauma. There are also cases of opioid overdose deaths where the brains show signs of early aging, including tau accumulation. This might suggest other mitigating factors make some people more prone to developing CTE than others.

lower rate of death due to violence and suicide in NFL players as compared to the general population." data-reactid="42">Replication and independent verification are two crucial steps in the scientific process. Yet many findings associated with CTE haven’t passed these tests. Contrary to what appears in the headlines, multiple researchers have found no significant relationship between playing football and increased risk of violence, suicide and dementia in the general football playing population. In fact, studies have shown a lower rate of death due to violence and suicide in NFL players as compared to the general population.

None of these studies make headlines, let alone even footnotes in most media reports. So when headlines state “CTE found in 99% of brains from deceased NFL players,” it only fuels people’s fear of CTE. They are assuming, like I did at first, that 99 percent of football players will get CTE.

But one has to be careful about interpreting the headlines, and I will tell you why:
LINK
 

Texian

Hall of Fame
CTE is taking it's toll with Mothers in this country. The proof is in the pudding. When you ride around on a Saturday morning running your errands and happen to observe what is going on in the local parks and sports complexes, you see a lot of kids playing soccer, Lacrosse, softball, Little League. If you do see a football game it is usually flag football. If you do see tackle football being played that is rare and in a very small minority.
 

Double Barrel

Moderator
Staff member
Contributor's Club
I had concerns about CTE, especially playing before he was 10. His brain was still vulnerable, and the biggest reason is that I have never trusted "dad coaches". Guys that used to play and then act like a-holes to the little guys because that's the way they did it 30 years ago. They often teach poor fundamentals and perpetuate drills that only serve to exacerbate potential problems instead of making them more skilled players.

That said, I don't want to raise my son in a protective bubble. We were honest with him when he wanted to play for actually trained career coaches in public school. We explained CTE concerns, and our rule was any head injury would immediately end the season. He had fun for two years, got bored with it, and moved on to other things.
 

Mr teX

Hall of Fame
The whole push behind this is folks away from the game saying "well, they need to know the effects of what this could be doing to their bodies.." & while this is a very valid point, they act like none of these guys have ever considered this. Who would've thought that you're probably doing long term damage to your body and brain if you run into people with your head for a living. What an epiphany that is!:shocked.

Those folks are attempting to equate CTE to the big tobacco, anti-smoking movement 15 years ago in which people really didn't know the harmful effects of tobacco. suffice it to say, it isn't even close to the same thing in that there is zero benefit from smoking except to "look" cool & of course there being clear addictive properties in tobacco.

At the end of the day, the decision to possibly sacrifice their bodies and quality of life in the future for the chance to make millions of dollars in a small finite time frame was made long ago by most of those guys. & to me, it's patently absurd that folks sitting at home or in a lab somewhere think that these guys don't know that they're doing that.

I played ball up to high school but as i look back on my life I can account for at least 4-5 times I likely had a concussion. Only 2 of those times came as a result of football.
 

PapaL

Loose Screw
That's pretty tough reading. This whole CTE thing has definitely changed my views on football and toughing things out. The money is great but health and family are even better. I hope Larry Johnson finds the help he needs. I can't imagine living that.

Former NFLer Larry Johnson believes he's living with CTE
http://www.foxnews.com/health/2017/12/13/former-nfler-larry-johnson-believes-hes-living-with-cte.html

Former NFL running back Larry Johnson said he has no memory of two full seasons, and that he’s considered violence toward others and himself as a result of what he believes is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

For now, CTE can only be confirmed after death, but he told The Washington Post that the anxiety, paranoia, self-destructive impulses and violent mood swings that he suffers are a result of the degenerative brain disorder.

At one point, he described “demons” that flood his brain and push him toward jumping from the roof of an apartment building.

“One is telling you to do it; one is telling you don’t,” Johnson, a 2002 Heisman finalist, told The Washington Post. “One is telling you it’d be fun.”

...

While Johnson shares custody of his daughter with the child’s mother, he said that it’s the hours spent without her that he worries about whether he can control the “demons” that surface. He described a recent outing with friends where he had to leave without explanation after developing an irresistible urge to punch one of the men for being chatty.

“Something so easily dismissed,” he told the Washington Post. “But it’s just – once I get in that mood, I can’t stop it. And it comes out of nowhere.”

Johnson, who said he’s always had somewhat of a “me against everybody” mentality, quit therapy and stopped taking prescribed medication because he feels he’s better equipped to deal with his emotions without help. He got rid of his gun collection and mentors disadvantaged children, and regularly turns down offers to socialize with friends at trendy nightclubs.
 

Double Barrel

Moderator
Staff member
Contributor's Club
That's pretty tough reading. This whole CTE thing has definitely changed my views on football and toughing things out. The money is great but health and family are even better. I hope Larry Johnson finds the help he needs. I can't imagine living that.

Former NFLer Larry Johnson believes he's living with CTE
http://www.foxnews.com/health/2017/12/13/former-nfler-larry-johnson-believes-hes-living-with-cte.html
That is a very sobering read. Dude sounds like a self-aware ticking time bomb, and that's got to be a mental state full of anguish and anxiety. I hope they can find a solution to help these guys. It really makes you wonder as a fan of the sport if we are part of the cycle.
 

welsh texan

All Pro
That's pretty tough reading. This whole CTE thing has definitely changed my views on football and toughing things out. The money is great but health and family are even better. I hope Larry Johnson finds the help he needs. I can't imagine living that.

Former NFLer Larry Johnson believes he's living with CTE
http://www.foxnews.com/health/2017/12/13/former-nfler-larry-johnson-believes-hes-living-with-cte.html
Another article about Larry Johnson here
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/american-football/42364622
"The other day I tried to open my car with my TV remote and I don't even know how I had the TV remote in my hand."

Hard to see where American Football can go from here really. Unless you move the rules more towards rugby style tackling without pads and helmets.

The old argument against the NFL over here from those who don't follow the sport is that they aren't as hard as rugby players because of the pads and helmets.

Those who follow the sport understand that part of the reason why the sport is so violent is because of the protective gear.

If you took away the helmets and most of the pads and forced players to tackle rather than hit, the game would be changed irrevocably, but you'd lower the risk of these brain injuries significantly.

Who knows what youd end up with in its place but may be it would be a really great sport in its own right.

Of course the long spells on the sideline as opposed to playing 'both ways' also means the energy level involved in the hits is going to be higher as well. So maybe you don't get as far by removing the helmets. Very hard to give a solution but the evidence is undeniable at this point, and it cant be long before they have to stop ignoring it.
 

Double Barrel

Moderator
Staff member
Contributor's Club
Houston rugby team starts playing exhibition games in January.

https://houstonsabercats.com/
I have been hearing the commercials on 610 and I'm so tempted to check it out. If only I understood the sport! lol

I bought a rugby game for my PS4 awhile back hoping it would teach me, but it apparently assumes you already know the sport because there is no tutorial.
 

JB

Old Curmudgeon
Contributor's Club
I have been hearing the commercials on 610 and I'm so tempted to check it out. If only I understood the sport! lol

I bought a rugby game for my PS4 awhile back hoping it would teach me, but it apparently assumes you already know the sport because there is no tutorial.
my interpretation is that Rugby is european&american combined football where anything goes
 

welsh texan

All Pro
my interpretation is that Rugby is european&american combined football where anything goes
I always think of American Football as being rugby but with one forward pass allowed. In rugby you can't pass forward at all.

Rugby Union is more complicated than Rugby League, in league its pretty simple, youve got 5 phases in posession before you have to turnover the ball, very similar to the downs in American Football.
 

Speedy

Yeller Dweller
Houston rugby team starts playing exhibition games in January.

https://houstonsabercats.com/
I have been hearing the commercials on 610 and I'm so tempted to check it out. If only I understood the sport! lol

I bought a rugby game for my PS4 awhile back hoping it would teach me, but it apparently assumes you already know the sport because there is no tutorial.
Will be checking out at least 1 game at the end of February (24th). I hope they get decent coverage around here, games on TV at the very least. I'll probably go to a couple of games once the regular season starts. Would consider season tickets but Sugarland is a pretty good hike for me. Hope the stadium they're supposed to be building is closer.
 

Double Barrel

Moderator
Staff member
Contributor's Club
Study Finds All Hits, Not Just Those Causing Concussions, Cause CTE

Bad news for young football players: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy — better known as CTE — can develop in brains after impact to the head without a person having suffered a concussion, a new study finds.

Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine say that early indicators of CTE, a condition typically associated with athletes who have dealt with numerous concussions, were still present in people even though they’d never been diagnosed with the dangerous brain injury. They discovered early signs of CTE even spread throughout the brain after impact.

Full article
Sobering read.
 

infantrycak

Admin & Mod
American football will have to adapt somehow. I don't know how, other than flag football, but they'll eventually (and slowly) adapt somehow.
Boxing and the fighting sports are still around. Frankly, laweresque, the more we know, the more people can knowingly sign a waiver.
 

Double Barrel

Moderator
Staff member
Contributor's Club
American football will have to adapt somehow. I don't know how, other than flag football, but they'll eventually (and slowly) adapt somehow.
I predict that eventual minimum age will be 14, or basically HS. It might take a generation, but the more science studies it, the more we realize the long term damage being done to young, developing minds.

I think rugby tackling, and perhaps even gear reduction, might down the road, as well.

And like 'cak said, waivers will be mandatory for those willing to potentially sacrifice long term health implications.

I do not believe that football is going away anytime soon, but I do wonder about the American consumer appetite for it decades from now.
 

disaacks3

Moderator
Staff member
I predict that eventual minimum age will be 14, or basically HS. It might take a generation, but the more science studies it, the more we realize the long term damage being done to young, developing minds.
True, but at what point are those impacts hard enough to cause an issue? There certainly wasn't enough velocity/kinetic energy when I played in youth football. I'd call it borderline, even in middle school.
 

Thorn

Dirty Old Man
True, but at what point are those impacts hard enough to cause an issue? There certainly wasn't enough velocity/kinetic energy when I played in youth football. I'd call it borderline, even in middle school.
Are you sure you're OK? How many fingers am I holding up?
 

Double Barrel

Moderator
Staff member
Contributor's Club
True, but at what point are those impacts hard enough to cause an issue? There certainly wasn't enough velocity/kinetic energy when I played in youth football. I'd call it borderline, even in middle school.
IMO, it is the untrained / unqualified 'dad coaches' that teach kids to hit each other in the earholes that is part of the problem with youth football. I was a bit shocked by some of the scenes in Friday Night Tykes, and later learned from other dads that it was quite common with their youth league experiences.

My son didn't want to play until 7th grade, and we were glad for that. At least we had real coaches instructing him, and we spoke with several at the parent orientation to find out if they are teaching a 'heads up' technique (they did) and other tackling fundamentals.

It seems like ESPN highlights are driving a lot of the bad form tackling and throwing bodies head first at ball carriers.

As far as your question, science is already on it:

Brain impact of youth football: Brain changes after one season of play

Playing Tackle Football Before 12 Is Tied to Brain Problems Later

Football Alters the Brains of Kids as Young as 8

Football Can Damage Kids' Brains — Even If They Don't Get Concussions

Is Football Safe for Kids? New Study Finds Brain Changes

Children at risk of brain changes after 1 season of youth football, study claims
 

disaacks3

Moderator
Staff member
IMO, it is the untrained / unqualified 'dad coaches' that teach kids to hit each other in the earholes that is part of the problem with youth football. I was a bit shocked by some of the scenes in Friday Night Tykes, and later learned from other dads that it was quite common with their youth league experiences.

My son didn't want to play until 7th grade, and we were glad for that. At least we had real coaches instructing him, and we spoke with several at the parent orientation to find out if they are teaching a 'heads up' technique (they did) and other tackling fundamentals.

It seems like ESPN highlights are driving a lot of the bad form tackling and throwing bodies head first at ball carriers.

As far as your question, science is already on it:
Not exactly.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171127091135.htm
26 Kids. DMN changes seen, but no associated testing to validate effects. No conclusions drawn.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/sports/football/tackle-football-brain-youth.html
Then if you read the study..."Participants received telephone-administered cognitive tests and completed online measures of depression, behavioral regulation, apathy and executive functioning (initiating activity, problem-solving, planning and organization)." To say I think their testing methodology is woefully inadequate is an understatement.


https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/10/football-kids-heads/504863/
"I asked him if this means people should stop letting kids play football, and he said no, which was surprising. I would never let my kid play football, and I don’t even have a kid. Stitzel’s argument is that there’s not definitive proof that youth football is bad for most kids." So, a non-objective writer who still can't believe that there's no definitive proof when told by the researcher himself.


It references the exact same study from the 2nd link.


25-kid study "Just as important, Whitlow said, are the questions unresolved by the study.

"Do these changes persist over time or do they just simply go away? Do you get more changes with more seasons of play? And most importantly, do these changes result in any kind of long-term change in function like memory or attention or anything that would be important in your ability to function day to day?"

Same study from link directly above. Same 25 kids.
 

CloakNNNdagger

Hall of Fame
Not exactly.

26 Kids. DMN changes seen, but no associated testing to validate effects. No conclusions drawn.

Then if you read the study..."Participants received telephone-administered cognitive tests and completed online measures of depression, behavioral regulation, apathy and executive functioning (initiating activity, problem-solving, planning and organization)." To say I think their testing methodology is woefully inadequate is an understatement.

"I asked him if this means people should stop letting kids play football, and he said no, which was surprising. I would never let my kid play football, and I don’t even have a kid. Stitzel’s argument is that there’s not definitive proof that youth football is bad for most kids." So, a non-objective writer who still can't believe that there's no definitive proof when told by the researcher himself.


It references the exact same study from the 2nd link.


25-kid study "Just as important, Whitlow said, are the questions unresolved by the study.

"Do these changes persist over time or do they just simply go away? Do you get more changes with more seasons of play? And most importantly, do these changes result in any kind of long-term change in function like memory or attention or anything that would be important in your ability to function day to day?"

Same study from link directly above. Same 25 kids.
I have reviewed the actual papers on CTE. Although, the relationships may on there face seem reasonable, I like other segments of the medical community feel that we just don’t have solid evidence yet that repeated concussions or sub-concussive hits actually cause CTE. All of these studies, including the recent one that concluded that repeated nonconcussive hits in youthful brains could lead to CTE, have very significant flaws with measuring baselines, containing biases in selection and most of all the very questionable choice (type) and numbers of controls. Especially, when dealing with youngsters, evaluation techniques and interpretations are variable and controversial. We know that the young brain is more susceptible to brain changes due to trauma, but there is also evidence that the young brain has increased compensatory and reparative properties. In fact, it has recently been discovered that in brains which are still actively growing, the remaining part of the brain can reorganize itself to control some functions that the damaged portion would have governed.

With all this said, I am not saying that concussive or even subconcussive events cannot result in CTE.............only that the presented "evidence" has far from proved it..........and has left many question as to the validity of such a conclusion
 

Double Barrel

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The science is very young, so I appreciate CloakNNNdagger's open minded perspectives. I never said anything was conclusive, but I still stand by my predictions because they are based on current trends. Pro football players are openly saying that they will not let their kids play football at a young age. We are already seeing a significant decrease in youth football participation. Some schools across the nation are even disbanding their football programs due to lack of participation.

I think as we learn more about it, society in general will arrive at a point where we do not feel prudent in putting young brains into a sport of violent collisions when there are many other viable alternatives.

Even if it's proven that just a low percentage of youths get CTE, less and less parents will be willing to gamble with their child's brain and long term health for a sport.

Just being pragmatic, no agenda.
 

Double Barrel

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And science will just continue to prove what seems obvious:

Playing Tackle Football Before Age 12 Leads To CTE Symptoms Much Earlier

Playing tackle football before the age of 12 could lead to an earlier onset of cognitive and emotional symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), according to the findings of new study.

Researchers at the Boston University Medical School and the VA Boston Healthcare System analyzed 211 former football players who were diagnosed after death with CTE and other, similar neurodegenerative brain diseases. Researchers compiled data for the study through phone interviews with family and friends connected to individuals examined in the study. The interviews allowed the authors to assess when, if at all, symptoms of CTE first became noticeable in the players.

The authors found that players who started playing tackle football before the age of 12 saw cognitive, behavioral, and mood symptoms of CTE begin well before other players — an astounding average of 13 years earlier. The study showed that for every one year earlier the players started playing football than their peers, cognitive symptoms started to show 2.4 years earlier, and behavioral and mood symptoms 2.5 years earlier.

“Youth exposure to repetitive head impacts in tackle football may reduce one’s resiliency to brain diseases later in life, including, but not limited to CTE,” explains corresponding author Ann McKee, chief of Neuropathology at Boston VA Healthcare System and director of BU’s CTE Center, in a media release. “It makes common sense that children, whose brains are rapidly developing, should not be hitting their heads hundreds of times per season.”

Full article
The full study was published in the journal Annals of Neurology.

“It makes common sense that children, whose brains are rapidly developing, should not be hitting their heads hundreds of times per season.” ~ Ann McKee, chief of Neuropathology at Boston VA Healthcare System and director of BU’s CTE Center
 

CloakNNNdagger

Hall of Fame
The link to the recent study is not to the "full study." It is a summary abstract of the study.
Reading the actual study makes it clear that the information utilized to obtain conclusions are not much more than telephone interviews of the deceased players' family and friends. Even first hand telephone interviews/surveys of patients themselves are not considered high quality information for medical studies. Accuracy in such information gathering is negatively affected by too many factors, not least of which is the interviewees' own potentially compromised detailed memory recall and/or their own potentially deficient cognitive level.

The study further demonstrates that although age of first exposure to tackle football was associated with early onset of cognitive and emotional problems, it was not associated with worse overall severity of CTE pathology, Alzheimer's disease pathology or other pathology. In addition, earlier symptom onset was not restricted to those diagnosed with CTE. The relationship was similar for the former football players without CTE who had cognitive or behavioral and mood changes that may have been related to other diseases. The control group in this study is by far poorly structured and not reflective of a study with high validity. And finally the question the study still leaves is would these behavioral "changes" in these players not have shown up even if they did not play football since many younger players seem to have an attraction to the aggressiveness of the game.

Again, this study leaves too many questions to be reflexively acted upon by parents. Future studies will have to be much more controlled and will call for players to be followed real time from cradle to casket to attain the valid information and conclusions that medical science requires.
 

OptimisticTexan

Hall of Fame
The link to the recent study is not to the "full study." It is a summary abstract of the study.
Reading the actual study makes it clear that the information utilized to obtain conclusions are not much more than telephone interviews of the deceased players' family and friends. Even first hand telephone interviews/surveys of patients themselves are not considered high quality information for medical studies. Accuracy in such information gathering is negatively affected by too many factors, not least of which is the interviewees' own potentially compromised detailed memory recall and/or their own potentially deficient cognitive level.

The study further demonstrates that although age of first exposure to tackle football was associated with early onset of cognitive and emotional problems, it was not associated with worse overall severity of CTE pathology, Alzheimer's disease pathology or other pathology. In addition, earlier symptom onset was not restricted to those diagnosed with CTE. The relationship was similar for the former football players without CTE who had cognitive or behavioral and mood changes that may have been related to other diseases. The control group in this study is by far poorly structured and not reflective of a study with high validity. And finally the question the study still leaves is would these behavioral "changes" in these players not have shown up even if they did not play football since many younger players seem to have an attraction to the aggressiveness of the game.

Again, this study leaves too many questions to be reflexively acted upon by parents. Future studies will have to be much more controlled and will call for players to be followed real time from cradle to casket to attain the valid information and conclusions that medical science requires.
CnnnD, Roger Staubach was concussed more times than I think anyone really counted, yet he's maintained his faculties and prospered in life, looks healthy as a horse when he does make a TV appearance and can still sling a football with some authority even at his age. So how is it that someone like him avoided the late in life damage?
 

CloakNNNdagger

Hall of Fame
CnnnD, Roger Staubach was concussed more times than I think anyone really counted, yet he's maintained his faculties and prospered in life, looks healthy as a horse when he does make a TV appearance and can still sling a football with some authority even at his age. So how is it that someone like him avoided the late in life damage?
NFL players that go onto significant brain pathology and symptoms unseen with segments of the normal aging population still seems the exception. Studies that have attempted to demonstrate otherwise thus far have been poorly controlled and have been filled with selection bias. Years of partying, alcohol and drugs (including narcotics) further confound the picture, since all of these factors have been associated with mood disorders, memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's. Meanwhile, we will continue to search for definitive answers.
 
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OptimisticTexan

Hall of Fame
NFL players that go onto significant brain pathology and symptoms unseen with segments of the normal aging population still seems the exception. Studies that have attempted to demonstrate otherwise thus far have been poorly controlled and have been filled with selection bias. Years of partying, alcohol and drugs (including narcotics) further confound the picture. Meanwhile, we will continue to search for definitive answers.
Damn, I was going to ask you about the affects of partying, alcohol, drugs, PED's, etc. and how it might be tied in to this mess.
 

CloakNNNdagger

Hall of Fame
I have reviewed the actual papers on CTE. Although, the relationships may on there face seem reasonable, I like other segments of the medical community feel that we just don’t have solid evidence yet that repeated concussions or sub-concussive hits actually cause CTE. All of these studies, including the recent one that concluded that repeated nonconcussive hits in youthful brains could lead to CTE, have very significant flaws with measuring baselines, containing biases in selection and most of all the very questionable choice (type) and numbers of controls. Especially, when dealing with youngsters, evaluation techniques and interpretations are variable and controversial. We know that the young brain is more susceptible to brain changes due to trauma, but there is also evidence that the young brain has increased compensatory and reparative properties. In fact, it has recently been discovered that in brains which are still actively growing, the remaining part of the brain can reorganize itself to control some functions that the damaged portion would have governed.

With all this said, I am not saying that concussive or even subconcussive events cannot result in CTE.............only that the presented "evidence" has far from proved it..........and has left many question as to the validity of such a conclusion
This is a lengthy, detailed and thought-provoking piece that questions some of the same conclusions I have raised regarding the Brown University CTE study that have been thrown out there by the media..........many of which have been mischaracterized. This is a must read for anyone interested in determining the real present status of the still "fledgling" CTE research.


NFL
Merril Hoge Doesn't Want You To Use Your Brain

Dom Cosentino
11/08/18 1:44pm




To clear up any confusion, let’s get this out of the way: Merril Hoge and Peter Cummings, who co-authored a book called Brainwashed: The Bad Science Behind CTE and The Plot to Destroy Football, are not CTE deniers. They do not dismiss the scientific notion that repetitive brain trauma is a high-risk factor for the onset of chronic traumatic encephalopathy and other degenerative brain disorders. And they’re correct in their assertion that there’s still a great deal of murkiness about the relationship between head trauma and CTE, including whether head trauma in and of itself actually causes CTE.

But in their effort to set the record straight about research they claim is biased, and a portion of the media’s misleading presentation of that research, Hoge and Cummings mislead their readers and show their own biases. Their aim, as Hoge told me over the course of two phone interviews, is no secret: to preserve youth tackle football, which a growing body of research shows can increase the risk to the long-term brain health of children 12 and younger. As a result, instead of simply trying to quell an unfounded panic about whether all youth football players will grow up to become brain-addled depressives and/or rage lunatics, Hoge and Cummings have appointed themselves as generals in the culture wars, at least where the future of football can stand in as a suitable proxy battle. Theirs is a bad-faith campaign of obfuscation, cherry-picking, and straw-manning wrapped inside a good-faith call for letting the slow pace of science run its course.

Hoge is a former NFL running back and ex-ESPN analyst whose playing career was cut short by concussions; he later won a lawsuit that accused the Bears’ then-physician of mistreating his head trauma. Cummings is a forensic neuropathologist at Boston University; last year, he wrote an op-ed about why he was letting his son play youth football, brandishing his credentials as a brain scientist waging a lonely crusade on behalf of the sport. Cummings’s position puts him at odds with the researchers at his own school’s CTE Center, the lab that’s done many of the headline-grabbing studies on CTE.

On the day of the book’s Oct. 23 release, several NFL talking heads—Chris Mortensen, Trey Wingo, Suzy Kolber, Bill Polian, Trent Dilfer, Cris Collinsworth—gave it a signal-boost by using largely generalized terms like “interesting” or “insightful” to describe it. You could say this about most book blurbs, but: It’s not clear if any of them actually read it.

Where Hoge and Cummings are on firmer footing is when they assail the media’s packaging of the BU team’s CTE research. Daniel Engber made this point in greater detail last year for Slate, and Eric Adelson wrote something similar the year before over at Yahoo. Take last year’s BU study that found CTE—the physical build-up of tau protein in the brain, which can only be diagnosed posthumously—in the brains of 110 out of 111 deceased NFL players. Those results filtered out to the public as a discovery that 99 percent of NFL players studied had CTE, which was true in the strictest sense—but not at all what the scope of the research actually meant.

The study itself plainly stated that “prevalence cannot be concluded or implied from this sample,” for a number of reasons. The sample was self-selected; the brains examined were donated to BU, and all of them belonged to ex-NFL players who had exhibited symptoms associated with mood, cognitive, or behavioral disorders (which can be, but are not limited to, disorders associated with CTE) when they were alive. There was no control group of non-football players. And there was no consideration of factors like family history, genetics, drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, PED use, painkiller use, or any analysis of the influence of those factors. All of these limitations were noted in the study, but a number of press outlets—most notoriously, the New York Times—never mentioned them at all.

By omitting the study’s substantial limitations, these press reports have indeed helped fuel something of a hysteria about the prevalence of CTE in football players of all ages. It hasn’t helped that Ann McKee, the BU neuropathologist leading the CTE Center’s research, was quoted during the 2013 PBS Frontline documentary League of Denial as saying, “I’m really wondering if every single football player doesn’t have this.” Or that celebrity author Malcolm Gladwell made headlines when he stated that college football should be abolished before later referring to football as “a moral abomination.” Or that the 2015 film Concussion took artistic liberties that fed a false narrative about how pervasive cognitive impairment happens to be in ex-players. Or that the Times, as recently as the week before last, pushed a story that suggested a former Ivy League football player who hanged himself and was later found to have CTE could have been “saved,” even though the BU doctors who discovered the physical pathology in his brain were careful at the time to avoid attributing his suicide “solely or even primarily” to brain damage. Or that BU’s Chris Nowinski, a co-founder of both the Concussion Legacy Institute and BU’s CTE Center, responded to Hoge’s and Cummings’s call for a better understanding of CTE science by denigrating them with a smarmy deflection.

“Every time a football industry person belittles the issue of CTE within their sport,” Nowinski said, “they are not just hurting football families, they also are hurting military families who need the science community to continue working together to find a cure for CTE.”

Nowinski’s comment reveals the way in which BU has frequently framed the issue for public consumption through the years; such was the way they rolled out last year’s study by emphasizing its terrifying “110 out of 111” aspect. This has led to positive developments, including a greater awareness of brain injuries, which has paved the way for in-game rule changes, fewer full-contact practices, concussion protocols, better treatment, evolving standards for returning to play, and improved equipment. But it also has set off a panic whereby CTE has become a kind of shorthand for any mood, cognitive, or behavioral disorder that might affect a former football or hockey player. To choose one tragic example: Ex-NHLer Todd Ewen, a brawler who sustained concussions as a player and suffered from depression, committed suicide instead of seeking treatment because he was convinced he had CTE. A subsequent study of Ewen’s brain later revealed he did not.

THE REST OF THE STORY
 

Double Barrel

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Merril Hoge, co-author of new book are way off target in discussing football, CTE

In their op-ed, Hoge and Cummings call the evidence of football causing CTE “pseudoscience,” laying out their case by saying that McKee’s 2017 bombshell study that found signs of CTE in 110 out of 111 brains of former NFL players had no control group as a comparison — no brains, say, from people who did not play football.

The only problem with that contention is that a 2015 Mayo Clinic study co-authored by McKee tested the brains of 198 individuals who had no exposure to contact sports in their lives — and not a single one of those 198 brains showed signs of CTE.

To recap: CTE was present in the brains of 110 out of 111 ex-NFL players, and in the brains of zero out of 198 people who did not play contact sports.

“I’m happy to ask Merril Hoge who to draft No. 1 next year,” Chris Nowinski, Ph.D., CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, said in a phone interview, “but we shouldn’t be asking him how to design research studies.”
:hmmm:
 


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