IFV 2013: Brain Injuries, CTE and You

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re completing our schedule for our upcoming Third Annual Independent Football Veterans Conference once again at the South Point Resort in Las Vegas next month May 3 – 5. We’re going to start posting announcements about our list of prominent panelists who will be flying in to speak and interact with our attendees. Today, we’re very excited to officially announce one of our Brain Injury panelists. As always, there is no attendance fee for retired players and their guests and approved media (and we won’t be playing golf either!). But you have to book your travel arrangements NOW and register for your admission badges before rates go up. Links to signing up are at the end of this post.
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CTEThe term most used today in football brain injuries is CTE: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. More and more of you retired players have been reading and hearing this term used in the concussion lawsuits and sports reporting as it continues to make its way into our daily conversations. For those of you still unfamiliar with the terms CTE and tau protein, here’s the definition from Wikipedia:
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Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a form of encephalopathy that is a progressive degenerative disease, which can only be definitively diagnosed postmortem in individuals with a history of multiple concussions and other forms of head injury. The disease was previously called dementia pugilistica (DP), as it was initially found in those with a history of boxing. CTE has been most commonly found in professional athletes participating in American football, ice hockey, professional wrestling and other contact sports who have experienced repetitive brain trauma. It has also been found in soldiers exposed to a blast or a concussive injury,[1] in both cases resulting in characteristic degeneration of brain tissue and the accumulation of tau protein. Individuals with CTE may show symptoms of dementia, such as memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression, which generally appear years or many decades after the trauma.
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“Repeated concussions and injuries less serious than concussions (“sub-concussions”) incurred during the play of contact sports over a long period can result in CTE. In the case of blast injury, a single exposure to a blast and the subsequent violent movement of the head in the blast wind can cause the condition.[1]
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Of course, with concussions and CTE taking so much prominence in the news, the NFL PR machine wasn’t going to be left behind. They’ve donated generously to several groups and agencies for further studies including a recent $30 million commitment to the NIH after Junior Seau’s unexpected suicide last year (and not to be outdone, the NFLPA announced a $100 million study with Harvard). But the standard line with CTE has been, “Oh but we’ll have to wait a while for all these studies to be done on dead athletes brains because CTE can’t be detected while you’re alive.” Bringing new meaning to that old ‘Delay, Deny and Hope They Die’ slogan that’s been around since the days of the Vietnam vets trying to access their benefits. Well, science doesn’t stop or wait for anyone. New discoveries are being made and advanced with each passing day and as with everything else, they’re going to have to update that sentence on Wikipedia and everywhere else: “The lack of in-vivo techniques to show distinct biomarkers for CTE is the reason for why CTE cannot be diagnosed during lifetime. The only known diagnosis for CTE occurs by studying the brain tissue after death.”
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Dr. Bennett OmaluOne of the most prominent doctors and researchers over the years has been neuropathologist, Dr. Bennett Omalu. Dr. Omalu was the pathologist who first uncovered the presence of tau and CTE in Mike Webster’s brain in 2002. Subsequent autopsies of other retired football players such as Andre Waters and Terry Long led to several studies and papers that were released to the praise on many in the neurology field and to the venom of the NFL and its own so-called experts like the infamous Ira Dr. NO Casson, co-chair of the NFL’s longstanding MTBI Committee. Dr. Omalu was the Assistant Pathologist in Pittsburgh where he first made his discoveries. He has since moved to California where he’s currently Chief Medical Examiner of San Joaquin County, as well as as a Clinical Professor and Associate Physician Diplomate at the UC, Davis Medical Center, Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine where he continues his research into brain injuries in general and CTE in particular.
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Dr. Omalu – along with his associates Drs. Julian Bailes and Gary Small – recently announced the results of their new work and research: They have been able to uncover the presence of CTE in live subjects (retired football players have been part of their latest work). This new work is a total game changer. Being able to identify the presence of CTE and tau in living subjects is the first and most important step towards treatment and, hopefully, an eventual cure. You can read about this new discovery first announced earlier this year – click HERE to read coverage in the Sporting News.
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Dr. Omalu will be speaking and participating on our Brain Injury Panel at our upcoming IFV Conference May 3 – 5 in Las Vegas. You won’t want to miss this Conference – book your flight and hotel room today while the rates are still low and then register for your admission passes by clicking HERE.
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IFV 2013: Brain Injuries, CTE and You — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: IFV 2013: Dr. Bennet Omalu on CTE and Football | Independent Football Veterans

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