Professional football is celebrated for its fierce tackles. Fans cheer when a defender delivers a bone-crushing hit to the ball carrier, especially if said ball carrier is the quarterback. Football is one of those institutions that has become a cornerstone of the American culture. It’s so integral, in fact, that we tend to ignore its devastating consequences.
According to recent studies, 96 percent of deceased players from the National Football League suffered from a brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Even though the evidence of this condition has been documented in former NFL players since the 1990s, the league only recently acknowledged the connection. This new revelation could have dramatic consequences not just for the NFL, but for football leagues of all levels.
What is CTE?
CTE is a vicious brain disease that occurs from repeated head trauma. After sustaining multiple concussions, a patient may develop a buildup of tau protein. This protein blocks transmissions between neurons and is also one of the main contributing factors of Alzheimer’s disease. What results is confusion, mood swings, aggression, memory loss, decreased cognitive function, depression and other issues. It also physically degrades the brain, and in many cases, leads to suicide.
Unfortunately, it’s currently impossible to definitively detect CTE in living patients. While symptoms can generally point to a pretty solid diagnosis, only an autopsy can say for sure it was CTE causing the issues. Luckily, most people will never face this problem. It is only those who suffer repeated head trauma, like professional football players, boxers and wrestlers.
What This Means for Football
Some of California’s most-loved pro football players were included in the report that showed 87 of 91 deceased players were afflicted with the disease. One of the most well-known cases was Junior Seau, who began his career with the San Diego Chargers. But even beyond the professional level, the effects of CTE have been felt. Players from all levels of play were tested, and nearly 80 percent showed signs of the disease.
Now that the NFL has acknowledged the link between the sport and the symptoms, they will likely be re-examining many of their rules and regulations. For instance, they may be evaluating their concussion protocols. In addition, the league has been weighing the prospect of doing away with kickoffs, as they produce the greatest number of injuries. Whatever they decide, one thing is clear: The NFL can no longer ignore the rising number of brain injuries present in their employees.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury in San Luis Obispo, you may have legal options. If the injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, or it was not handled with proper medical care, contact The Ernst Law Group today for a free consultation.