The NFL brain bank to which Duerson referred, located at Bedford VA Medical Center here in Massachusetts, has spent the last several years examining former athletes' brains for indicators of a neurodegenerative condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE arises from accumulation of Tau protein, which normally stabilize the neural microtubules. The pathology of CTE is highly similar to other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, more commonly known as prion diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Creutzfelt-Jakob disease, and as such sufferers of CTE experience symptoms of dimentia such as memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression. These symptoms may appear within months of the trauma or many months later. So far, of the 12 of the 321 brains of NFL players who died between February 2008 and June 2010 inspected by medical examiners at the VA medical center, all 12 have shown unmistakable signs of CTE.
As science erodes long-accepted dogma and conventional wisdom, there exists a moral imperative on the behalf of society to replace their antiquated beliefs with verifiable fact-based theories. This is no less true of the NFL who, in order to make amends for their past transgressions, must redouble its feeble efforts to ensure the safety of its players and the millions of young kids who seek to emulate them. Recent reforms to its player post-concussion protocol is a excellent first step, but much more must be done to ensure that America's Game will continue to flourish as America's citizens become increasingly aware of the health risks that football poses for their children.
Posted by Connor Finnerty (2)