Dead NFLers' Brains Show Severe Damage From Lifetime of Hits
With the Super Bowl slated for Sunday, it may be a good time to look at what a lifetime of blows to the head do to a person. According to an article on CNN.com, repeated concussions can lead to damage known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. A doctor studying the brain cells of dead former NFLers stated that damage to their brains resembled the type that could be found in an 80-year-old Alzheimer sufferer. So sit back and enjoy the skullcrushing hits on Sunday. However, for the athlete, every blow turns the brain closer and closer to mush. "Until recently, the best medical definition for concussion was a jarring blow to the head that temporarily stunned the senses, occasionally leading to unconsciousness. It has been considered an invisible injury, impossible to test -- no MRI, no CT scan can detect it. But today, using tissue from retired NFL athletes culled posthumously, the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) is shedding light on what concussions look like in the brain. The findings are stunning. Far from innocuous, invisible injuries, concussions confer tremendous brain damage. That damage has a name: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />CTE). CTE has thus far been found in the brains of five out of five former NFL players. On Tuesday afternoon, researchers at the CSTE will release study results from the sixth NFL player exhibiting the same kind of damage.
"What's been surprising is that it's so extensive," said Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, and co-director of the CSTE. "It's throughout the brain, not just on the superficial aspects of the brain, but it's deep inside."
CSTE studies reveal brown tangles flecked throughout the brain tissue of former NFL players who died young -- some as early as their 30s or 40s. McKee, who also studies Alzheimer's disease, says the tangles closely resemble what might be found in the brain of an 80-year-old with dementia. 'I knew what traumatic brain disease looked like in the very end stages, in the most severe cases,' said McKee. 'To see the kind of changes we're seeing in 45-year-olds is basically unheard of.'" Source: CNN.com
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