Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

Discussion in 'Arizona Cardinals' started by arthurracoon, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. arthurracoon

    arthurracoon The Cardinal Smiles

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    Researchers find brain trauma in Henry
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=5333971

    Chris Henry, the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver who died in a traffic accident last year, had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) -- a form of degenerative brain damage caused by multiple hits to the head -- at the time of his death, according to scientists at the Brain Injury Research Institute, a research center affiliated with West Virginia University.

    "We would have been very happy if the results had been negative, but multiple areas of Chris Henry's brain showed CTE," said Julian Bailes, Director of BIRI and chairman of neurosurgery at West Virginia. Bailes and his colleagues presented results of their forensic examination at a news conference Monday afternoon.

    Researchers have now discovered CTE in the brains of more than 50 deceased former athletes, including more than a dozen NFL and college players, pro wrestler Chris Benoit and NHL player Reggie Fleming.

    Repeated blows to the head are the only known cause of CTE, researchers say. Concussive hits can trigger a buildup of toxic tau protein within the brain, which in turn can create damaging tangles and threads in the neural fibers that connect brain tissue. Victims can lose control of their impulses, suffer depression and memory loss, and ultimately develop dementia.

    At the news conference Monday, Bailes said that neither NFL nor WVU records show he was diagnosed with a concussion during his playing career.

    But it doesn't take a collision with another player for brain trauma to occur.

    "The brain floats freely in your skull," said Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist who is co-director of BIRI. "If you're moving very quickly and suddenly stop, the brain bounces."

    While the links between CTE and behavior are still being studied, many of the former athletes diagnosed with this form of brain damage died under unusual circumstances. Ex-Steeler Justin Strzelczyk, for example, was killed in 2004 after experiencing hallucinations, leading police on a high-speed chase for 40 miles before driving his car into a tanker truck. In 2007, Benoit strangled his wife and 7-year-old son, then put Bibles next to their bodies and hanged himself. Tom McHale, a guard for three NFL teams remembered by teammates as smart and dependable, sank into depression and died of a multiple-drug overdose in 2008.

    Henry, 26, died on Dec. 17, 2009, a day after he either jumped or fell from the back of a moving pickup truck being driven by his fiancee, Loleini Tonga. The two had been involved in a dispute before Tonga got into the truck and Henry jumped in. One witness told reporters that Henry said, "If you take off, I'm going to jump off the truck and kill myself."

    It is still not clear whether Henry jumped or fell, but as Tonga was driving at about 19 miles per hour, Henry crashed to the ground, suffering a fractured skull and massive head injuries. Police ruled the incident an accident. No traces of alcohol were found in a toxicology report, which didn't include any other tests for drugs. No charges were filed against Tonga.

    After Henry's death, his mother, Carolyn Henry Glaspy, gave BIRI permission to examine his brain in detail.

    CTE can be pinpointed only by autopsy, and even under regular post-mortem analysis, its effects are invisible. But using cell-staining techniques discovered and developed by Omalu, scientists can see the dangerous tau proteins and telltale tangles that characterize CTE. After staining, normal brain cells are blue and uncluttered under a microscope, while Henry's brain cells were discolored, clumpy and filled with threads, according to the researchers.

    Now, Bailes -- and likely Henry's family, friends and fans -- will wonder if his neural damage contributed to his emotional volatility, including whatever problems he was suffering the day he died.

    "I think it did," Bailes said. "Superimposed on the acute brain injuries Chris suffered when he died, there was fairly extensive damage throughout his brain that was fully consistent with CTE. This syndrome is expressed not only as changes in the brain, but clinically, as behavioral changes. And starting with Mike Webster, we have seen common threads in these cases: emotional disturbances, depression, failed personal relationships and businesses, suicidal thoughts, sometimes alcohol or drug use."

    "I'm just trying to learn what happened, and what the situation was with Chris' brain," Glaspy told ESPN.com on Sunday. "Whatever I can do to help anyone else who is going through this, I'm willing to do."

    At the news conference, Glaspy said the results were a "big shock" because she knew nothing about her 26-year-old son's underlying condition or the disease.

    "I was a little scared," she said. "It was something new to me. I'm still trying to educate myself as to what it means. Some of it makes sense with some of the behavioral patterns in Chris -- just like mood swings and the headaches.

    "Hopefully I can share whatever they share with me with other parents and help the NFL deal with the matter of being hit in the head and concussions and to educate ourselves as mothers and fathers when we send our kids out there on the field."

    For years, the NFL and its affiliated researchers disputed a scientific evidence linking concussions to long-term brain damage. However, referring to reports of CTE among former players, NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee co-chair Richard Ellenbogen told The New York Times earlier this month, "They aren't assertions or hype -- they are facts."

    In April, the league announced a $1-million gift to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University.

    Henry, a native of Belle Chasse, La., played collegiately at West Virginia and was a third-round pick by the Bengals in 2005. He played for five tumultuous seasons in the NFL; he was arrested five times during his pro career, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for the first half of the 2007 season for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

    But after Cincinnati brought him back in 2008, Henry vowed to put his substance abuse and anger management issues behind him. And he had been succeeding, according to teammates as well as Bengals officials.

    Bailes, a former Pittsburgh Steelers team doctor and currently the team doctor for West Virginia, said his quest is to make football safer.

    "I think football is a great sport, and we want to make it safer," Bailes said, "but we have to continue to move forward with changes made recently and take the head impacts out of the sport as much as possible."
     
  2. 82CardsGrad

    82CardsGrad 7 x 70

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    And yet, in just about every game played on Sunday you will see defensive backs and linebackers diving head first into tackles on multiple occasions... incredible...
     
  3. cardsfanmd

    cardsfanmd Registered

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    And when they dont we call them wimps...
     
  4. cardsfanmd

    cardsfanmd Registered

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    I empathize for the people who have, do and will suffer from this, but I think it's disrespectful to them to try and blame Henry's continued poor behavior on the condition.
     
  5. 82CardsGrad

    82CardsGrad 7 x 70

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    Not really... I mean, yea - they might not make the ESPN highlight real - which is what they are after... However, I respect a guy who can put an oppenent on the ground without trying to be the next Jack Tatum, even more than dude who lead with their head...
     
  6. cardsfanmd

    cardsfanmd Registered

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    Who's your favorite defensive player on the Cardinals?
     
  7. 82CardsGrad

    82CardsGrad 7 x 70

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    In terms of being a consistent tackler - Dockett. I would be tempted to mention A-Dub as I think he could be the classiest player we have on the team, and arguably the best leader. However, he misses a ton of tackles and plays, in part because he will sometimes go for the highlight reel tackle versus wrapping up and getting the guy on the ground.

    In reality, the Cards have suffered greatly on defense in terms of tackling. We just have never had a group of consistent, dependable tacklers over the past decade or more... What happend at the end of last season and into the playoffs is a prime example.
     
  8. splitsecond

    splitsecond Registered

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    honestly, thats pretty depressing.
     
  9. AZZenny

    AZZenny Registered User

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    Why is that? The kind of problems we see in some of the inherited tauopathies often include exactly these kinds of behaviors. It may or may not have contributed to Henry's particular problems, but why is it disrespectful to recognize that widespread damage to brain cells frequently shows up as behavior problems and psychiatric issues?
     
  10. Tyler

    Tyler Registered

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    Because people would rather say he is a POS and he knew damn well what he was doing. Just go look at the thread about his death.
     
  11. Catfish

    Catfish Registered

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  12. RugbyMuffin

    RugbyMuffin Uh,huhuhuhuhuh

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    They get paid well for there risks.

    A report like this is great, because it helps atheletes know what they are getting into. But, it is there choice, and they know the risks, or at least know all the risks at the time they make a decision to be a professional athelete. Plus expections that these players play under are probably put there via the money, coaches, and teammate more than any fans demands.

    And remember, it is their choice. Not every human on earth wants to live till they're 80 years old, some make the choice to sacrifice things in order to live the life they want, and enjoy. The roar of the crowd, the violence, the competition, the passion, etc., etc. That is an experience that is worth the sacrifice for some. Some things are worth taking the risk, and in our modern egg shell society we forget this.

    It is their choice. .....oh, and proper tackling technique ALWAYS helps. :D

    There are other jobs out there that pay well, and are dangerous.
    [​IMG]

    Heck, there are jobs that pay poorly that are dangerous.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2010
  13. cardsfanmd

    cardsfanmd Registered

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    Because he demonstrated the same reckless behavior from early adolescence until his death. Did he suffer from CTE when he was 12?
     
  14. Catfish

    Catfish Registered

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    I would agree with you that to play the game was their choice. The results of that choice, (at least in the cases chronicled in the opening thread), were that their choice was eventually taken from them due to the injuries sufferred. I wonder how much choice these guys had, as they apparently lost the ability to reason.

    I recall when I was young, that people said that smoking was bad for you. About all they could tell you when asked why, however, was that it stunts your growth----hardly the case. I wonder how many of us oldsters would have chosen to smoke, had they known then that it would lead to cancer, greatly diminished ability to breathe, and early death. In my mind, fear of having my growth stunted was very minor, when compared to what we now know about the results of long term smoking. My decision then, may have been much different, had I known then what I know now.

    How many of them would have made those same choices then, if they knew that the brain damage sufferred would lead to a greatly diminished ability to make reasonable choices. How many of their damaged brains are telling them that they can no longer deal with the pain, shame, fear, sorrow, anger, or whatever maladay they suffer because of the damage. How many of the really have the ability to make reasonable choices now ----- and how many would have made the same choices then, had they known what the REAL consequenses would be?
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2010
  15. AZZenny

    AZZenny Registered User

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    My ex-husband quit HS football as a Senior -- he says he was very good and being recruited by several colleges -- when his coach insisted he play through a broken hand. Since he was also a decent guitarist and had fantasies of becoming a musician, he quit on the spot. The coach and some teammates tried to coax, then shame him into rejoining the team and playing hurt. Even his Dad told him he'd probably never be a professional musician, but that he could be a full-ride college football star. He stuck to his guns, though, and the pressure just made him more stubborn.

    If coaches will pressure young men to play when there is already known, proven, obvious, painful damage that could hurt their future, how much more will they do that when the damage is invisible and seems temporary and doesn't cause pain? And how many people would be able to stand up to peer pressure, or for a pro, the taunting or loss of income, etc? Heck, look at boxers.

    I don't think it's quite fair to say these guys 1) even knew they needed to make a choice to avoid brain damage until very recently 2) are usually in a position to make an unpressured, free and informed choice.
     

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