Being a part of the solution – Athletes and brain injury research

There was a story last week about 3 current NFL players who have committed to donating their brain and spinal cord tissue after they die to a study working to understand any link between brain trauma suffered by athletes and dementia later in life.

Much has been made of organ donation, and rightly so. In this case, these players and a host of other athletes are joining an effort with the potential to help a large group of individuals live much better lives. Kudos to the medical staff at Boston University School of Medicine and all of the study participants for taking on a serious health issue.

The highlighted story is from Health.com and can be found at http://news.health.com/2009/09/14/3-nfl-stars-donate-brain-tissue-trauma-research/, with an excerpt provided below.

(Excerpt)

3 NFL Stars to Donate Brain Tissue for Trauma Research

Three National Football League star players have agreed to donate their brain and spinal cord tissue after they die to help scientists learn more about the link between brain trauma suffered by athletes and dementia later in life.

The players β€” Matt Birk of the Baltimore Ravens, Lofa Tatupu of the Seattle Seahawks and Sean Morey of the Arizona Cardinals β€” are the first active NFL players to join more than 150 former athletes on the Brain Donation Registry at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), once believed to affect only boxers, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated trauma to the brain. Early symptoms may include memory impairment, emotional instability, erratic behavior, depression and impulse control problems. The condition eventually progresses to full-blown dementia, according to a news release issued by the university.

In recent years, CTE has been found in 10 deceased athletes, including professional football players, boxers and a professional wrestler.

β€œThe science is clear that CTE is a threat to the health and well-being of all contact sports athletes. I would like to do my part to raise awareness and help the research advance toward treatment and an eventual cure,” Birk, a Pro Bowl center for the Ravens, said in the news release.

(The story continues at http://news.health.com/2009/09/14/3-nfl-stars-donate-brain-tissue-trauma-research/)