Saturday, October 31, 2009

NFL Head Trauma


Malcolm Gladwell has an illuminating article in last week's New Yorker about an entity known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which is a variant of cognitive dementia that develops in people who are subjected to repeated blows to the head (pugilists and football players especially). The article is debased slightly by the usual Gladwellian attempt to make a forced correlation between two seemingly unrelated topics (in this case dogfighting and NFL linemen), but it's a decent read nonetheless.

A recent study from Boston University delineates the pathophysiology of CTE as relating to abnormal deposition of the tau protein (whatever that is). Another study from the University of Michigan reports that former NFL football players develop early onset dementia or memory loss at a rate 19 times higher than the general male population between the ages of 30-49. There was even a sample from a teenage football player whose brain showed abnormal levels of the tau protein.

The bottom line is that football is an extremely dangerous activity. The dog fighter analogy is a stretch but these guys who play professional football for a living are indeed the gladiators of our age. Especially the interior linemen. And none of their contracts are guaranteed, that's the best part. These billionaire owners can cut a guy at any time, for any reason. Injury prone? Too many concussions? Out the door. So these guys play through it. They lace up their pads until they can't physically do it anymore. And too many of them are ending up like Mike Webster after their playing days have ended, sleeping under highway bypasses with all the other bums....

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is why my father made me wrestle instead. 11 later, an avulsion fractrue of my olecrenon and no significant concussions, I'd say he had it right.

would you let the little buckeyes play?

Frank Drackman said...

Talkin Bout Brain Damage...have you WATCHED the Browns play this year??? And most Football Players don't start with a full deck anyway...
Still...more young women have died in Ted Kennedy's cars than in NFL football games...
And I played 2 full years of Freshman Highschool Football, still sharp as a tack...

Frank

Buckeye Surgeon said...

You got me there on the Browns Frank. I haven't seen such a putrid display of football since...., well, since the 2008 Det Lions.

Anonymous said...

Great Read. My son came in and asked me about what I was reading. I explained it.
And he said,"SO THAT'S WHY you always nag me about head gear and how we only have one brain and we need to take care of it!"
And then, about two minutes later, "Uncle Eric must hate to see those kinds of injuries, right, Mom?" His Uncle is a neurosurgeon.

(Still can't get my typepad to work)-

DefendUSA

Liz@stimtein.com said...

I rarely post, but I wanted to say thanks for sharing this information.