CTE in Former NFL Players

For sometime now, a few scientists have been trying to study the brains of former NFL players.  Unfortunately, all that’s been found in the brains of these former players has been posthumously (after death).  It was said to be impossible to detect CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in living patients.  UCLA recently discovered brains scans which revealed a certain protein that causes brain damage.  CTE is caused by a buildup of tau, an abnormal protein which strangles vital brain cells. The tau would buildup in areas that controlled emotions, memory, and other functions.  It is still very early but being able to diagnose living patients with CTE can go a long way in providing treatment and preventing horrible tragedies like in years past.  For example, in 2011, Dave Duerson, a defesnsive back for the Chicago Bears, shot himself in the chest and left a note saying that he wanted his brained donated to research.  Another former football player, Fred McNiell had a very successful career and went on to become a lawyer after his career.  But late in his 50s, he was diagnosed with early onset dementia and is now being tested for possible CTE.  Not too long ago, Junior Seau, a very loved and respected football player and person committed suicide at the young age of 45.  Junior Seau shot himself in the chest and his family decided to donate his brain to research as well.  When the results were relseaeed, Seau was also diagnosed with CTE.  It is tough for the players to deal with because once they are done playing in the NFL it is basically impossible to find an insurance company who will cover them.  Their bodies and brains are already very messed up so the insurance companies know it will cost them lots of money to cover the players.  So they usually just deny them.  This leaves the retired football players in a lot of trouble because the NFL does not cover them after they retire either.  So they are left on their own basically to deal with the injuries and problems that were caused to them by playing professional football for all those years.

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