Soon your favorite football players–both amateur and pro–will be putting in some serious time on the field. This also means a fresh crop of articles about the dangers of football, and how the occasionally brutal hits sustained on the field add up to traumatic brain injury:
The topic of traumatic brain injury has become part of our cultural conversation due to news reporting, feature films like Concussion, and television shows like Nurse Jackie. But many people still struggle to identify the symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can be different depending on the severity of the injury and age of the injured.
“Repetitive head trauma chokes the brain.”
So says Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist at the heart of of the film Concussion, played by Golden Globe-nominated actor Will Smith. Omalu’s journey to discovering CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, began in 2002 while performing an autopsy on former Pittsburgh Steeler football player Mike Webster, who died at the age of 50. Post-NFL retirement, Webster suffered from amnesia, dementia, depression, and other unexplained cognitive and emotional difficulties. In his study of Webster’s brain, Omalu found large amounts of tau protein, a substance associated with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.