Wednesday’s news surrounding health and safety in sports:
* Tuesday’s news that UCLA researchers were able to use brain scans to find the proteins in chronic traumatic encephalopathy in living concussion victims was met with both skeptism and cheers. The disease, which was found in the brain of the late Junior Seau, had yet to be known how to be discovered in living brains.
USA Today’s report said the study may help prevent future players from taking their lives as Seau did.
“One of the problems with CTE cases is that some of them end in suicide. The suicides are often precipitous, without warning,” said neurosurgeon Julian Bailes, a co-author of the report and co-director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute in Evanston, Ill. Seau, a former NFL linebacker and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, shot himself to death last May. The National Institutes of Health recently said tests of Seau’s brain showed CTE, which has been linked to depression and dementia. “The hope would be if you could identify them while they are in the early states that they could be treated,” said Bailes, who describes the search for a way to identify the disease in living people as the “Holy Grail” of CTE research.
USA Today also published a sidebar on the report, talking to Wayne Clark, a former backup quarterback. He was one of five living subjects who underwent the brain scans.
One research question is why some players with concussion histories don’t show long-term effects while others do.
“As I understood, it was not the least and not the worst (of the five) affected,” Clark said. “So I don’t know where I rank on their scale. But I was surprised to see I had any. I’d never had any indication that I did or where it goes from there.”
The Huffington Post’s report focused on the Tau proteins and what finding them means for the long-term good.
The Toronto Star said the findings could “shake up” the way sports teams treat concussions — and how it affects the Canadian Football League.
Small stressed the study is only the first step in studying brain degeneration in living athletes with histories of repeated head trauma. That the UCLA study only examines five players is a limitation, said Charles Tator, a Toronto neurologist and head of the Canadian Sports Concussion Project.
Researchers involved with Tator’s project are now attempting to find tau proteins in a larger group of 40 retired, living CFL players.
“To really be sure of findings of this nature, you probably need about 50 patients to be 100 per cent sure,” Tator said.
* Also, JrHockeyRecruit.com examined concussions and what affect they have on hockey recruits.
* Huffington Post Canada’s advice column gave parents advice on how to better balance duties between your kid and their team.
* MLive wrote about an upcoming lecture at Hope College (Michigan) on sudden death in athletes.
* In Maryland, a state board is reviewing recommendations by a concussion task force, according to The Baltimore Sun.
* Bakersfield Now wrote about how youth athletes are risking their lives by hiding concussions.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor