Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Concussion Research Takes a Turn
towards the Creepy

We have discussed the physical toll that professional football players take, and been pretty critical of the National Football League's lack of leadership in their care. But where the league has been slow to act, now comes word of a study at the Boston University School of Medicine into the cumulative effect of the concussions that so many of the players suffer. This study is unique in at least one respect ~ twelve athletes, including five former NFL players, have agreed to donate their brains to researchers once they are finished with them.

According to a report from the New York Times the athletes have agreed to donate their brains to the medical school and the study after they die. Some of those participating include former New England Patriot Ted Johnson and former Tennessee Titan Frank Wycheck, amongst others.

According to the article former Steelers Mike Webster, Terry Long, and Justin Strzelczyk all showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy ~ which develops in athletes, especially older boxers, as the result of traumatic brain injury. A fourth former NFL star, Andre Waters, also suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. According to the Times article an announcement will be made on Thursday that a postmortem examination of former NFL player John Grimsley suffered from the same condition.

The NFL's resistance to the idea that the nature of the NFL game can lead to traumatic brain injuries and chronic traumatic encephalopathy is puzzling insomuch as medical researchers reported findings to that effect beginning in 2005.