Seminole State College
After the suicide of NFL player Junior Seau last May and the murder-suicide of Kansas City Cheifs player Jovan Belcher, the issue of head trauma and the long term effects it has on players in the NFL has become a very hot topic in the sports and medical field. While the cause of Belcher’s depression has not been diagnosed as caused by any specific disease, the official diagnosis of what made Seau end his life has been cited as CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) (Zeigler, 2012). CTE is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disease which is caused by repetitive head trauma, such as concussions (SLI, 2012). CTE is known to cause depression, severe mood swings, aggressiveness, memory loss, dementia, and suicidal behavior (Preventing Concussions). Though originally thought to only be a disease found only in boxers, after medical examiner Bennet Omalu identified CTE in two former Pittsburg Steelers in 2002, the NFL and scientists began to realize that many more of their current and former players were suffering with CTE (SLI, 2012). As of now, 33 deceased NFL players have been confirmed to have had CTE before their death (Breslow, 2013).
CTE is characterized by a few neurological and physiological abnormalities in the brain, one of the main symptoms is the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau (Zeigler, 2012). In CTE affected brains, tau clumps and builds up in places, causing the brain to malfunction, often leading to dementia in later stages. (Zeigler, 2012). A study done in 2012 by Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy studied 85 brains donated by families of veterans, boxers, and high school, college, and NFL players for the build up of tau(Lupkin, 2012). Of the 85, 63 had CTE, including 34 professional football players (Lupkin, 2012). A total of 35 professional football player’s brains had been studied, and only one was shown... [continues]
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