In the category of must read, this piece on Grantland by Jane Leavy is one the mouth-breathing, booger-eating, Neanderthal types who thing science is ruining the game, should become acquainted with (if they can even read). Dr. McKee and people like me are not trying to take away the sports you love. In fact we are trying to save them, football included.
Dr. McKee is a fan, just like most of us;
Every football Sunday, she parks herself in front of the TV in her authentic Packers foam Cheesehead ($17.95 at packersproshop.com) and Rodgers’s no. 12 jersey and prays that none of the men on the field end up on a dissection table. To date, she has found ravages of CTE, the neurodegenerative brain disease that has become her life’s work, in over 70 athletes, nearly 80 percent of those she has examined. Among them: 18 of the 19 NFL players she has autopsied; three NHL enforcers; and a boy just 17 years old. McKee, who received $1 million in funding from the VA as well as a home for her lab, has also documented evidence of CTE in combat veterans exposed to roadside bombs.1
“The coolest thing about Ann is she spends all day doing autopsies on NFL players and can’t wait for the weekend to put on her Packer sweatshirt and climb into bed with a big bag of popcorn and a beer,” says Gay Culverhouse, former president of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who now advocates on behalf of former players.
“Well, I don’t usually do it in my bed,” McKee says.
Dr. McKee relishes her job, no matter how anyone sees it; Continue reading
I tweeted about it and want to put a link here on the site for those looking for information. This article by Jonah Lehrer does a wonderful job of not only explaining the concussive injury but also explaining why there may be an issue going forward with the sport of football. Here is an excerpt;
But we do know what happens once it’s broken. In the milliseconds after a concussion, there is a sudden release of neurotransmitters as billions of brain cells turn themselves on at the exact same time. This frenzy of activity leads to a surge of electricity, an unleashing of the charged ions contained within neurons. It’s as if the brain is pouring out its power.
The worst part of the concussion, however, is what happens next, as all those cells frantically work to regain their equilibrium. This process takes time, although how long is impossible to predict: sometimes hours, sometimes weeks, sometimes never. (The latest guidelines suggest that most concussed subjects require at least 10 days to recover, with adolescents generally needing a few days more.) While the brain is restoring itself, people suffer from a long list of side effects, which are intended to keep them from thinking too hard. Bright lights are painful; memory is fragile and full of holes; focus is impossible.
The healing also has to be uninterrupted. In the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury, the brain remains extremely fragile. Because neurons are still starved for energy, even a minor “secondary impact” can unleash a devastating molecular cascade. All of a sudden, brain cells that seemed to be regaining their balance begin committing suicide. The end result is a massive loss of neurons. Nobody knows why this loss happens. But the loss is permanent.
Teenagers are especially susceptible to these mass cellular suicides. This is largely because their brains are still developing, which means that even a slight loss of cells can alter the trajectory of brain growth. Football concussions are also most likely to affect the parts of the brain, such as the frontal lobes, that are undergoing the most intense development. (The frontal lobes are responsible for many higher cognitive functions, such as self-control and abstract reasoning. The immaturity of these areas helps explain the immaturity of teenagers.)
We have stated over and over here Continue reading
Ken Dryden was an amazing goalie in the NHL, and has been around long enough to see the transformation of the sport. Hockey is a very exciting game to watch and really many are missing out on its action. I continue to tell everyone that there is nothing like a NHL game in the stands, probably the best event one can go to (unless you score a Game 7 ticket in the playoffs). The issue that Dryden is taking on is one that I have been clamoring for – for a long time – remove shots to the head. Dryden wrote his article for Grantland and is calling on the NHL and NFL to start playing “head smart”;
This is a difficult time for the NHL, for its commissioner, Gary Bettman, and for hockey. It’s no less difficult for the NFL, for its commissioner, Roger Goodell, for the NCAA, and for football. Head injuries have become an overwhelming fact of life in sports. The immensity of the number, the prominence of the names, the life-altering impact on their lives, and, more disturbing, if that’s possible, the now sheer routineness of their occurrence. The Crosby hit didn’t seem like much. If it hadn’t been Crosby, the clip of the incident would never have made the highlight reel. And if so much can happen out of so little, where is all this going? Who else? How many more? How bad might this get? Careers and lives of players, we know now, have been shortened, diminished, snuffed out by head injuries. What once had seemed debatable, deniable, spin-able, now is not. What once had been ignored now is obvious. Not just contact or collision sports, hockey and football are dangerous sports.
Dryden does not suggest to Bettman, rather implores him to make necessary changes; Continue reading