Dead Athletes' Brains Show Damage from Concussions
Former NFL linebacker Ted Johnson suffered more than 100 concussions. According to an article on CNN.com, he got back-to-back concussions in 2002 and that is when his problems began. He began suffering from depression, sleep disorders, and mental fatigue.
The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University is studying concussions in the brain. They have found that concussions confer tremendous brain damage, called Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). So far CTE has been found in the brains of six out of six former NFL players.
The damage affects the parts of the brain that control emotion, rage, hypersexuality, and even breathing. It is also a progressive disease that kills brain cells.
100 athletes have consented to have their brains studied after they die.
The NFL is planning its own independent medical study of retired NFL players on the long-term effects of concussion.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 300,000 sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) of mild to moderate severity (1), most of which can be classified as concussions (i.e., conditions of temporarily altered mental status as a result of head trauma), occur in the United States each year. The proportion of these concussions that are repeat injuries is unknown; however, there is an increased risk for subsequent TBI among persons who have had at least one previous TBI (2,3). Repeated mild brain injuries occurring over an extended period (i.e., months or years) can result in cumulative neurologic and cognitive deficits (4,5), but repeated mild brain injuries occurring within a short period (i.e., hours, days, or weeks) can be catastrophic or fatal. The latter phenomenon, termed “second impact syndrome.”
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