Will Smith’s new movie Concussion has been released in theaters, allowing the press and American public to open up a dialogue on brain injuries and football. Concussions, also known as mild-traumatic brain injuries, can aid in the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative brain disease that can lead to early-onset dementia, behavioral problems and issues with memory.
Will Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, the doctor responsible for finding CTE in the brains of deceased NFL players. His discovery and research caused a national uproar and allegations over an NFL cover up. The truth is scary, sad and inexcusable on part of the NFL. In a study conducted by Boston University and the Department of Veterans Affairs, CTE was discovered in the brains of 87 out of 91 deceased NFL players. With Will Smith’s movie taking the national stage, people are likely to have more questions about CTE and football.
Football Brain Injuries and CTE
CTE is primarily a danger to older athletes who have played football for years and suffered multiple concussions. However, that is not to say high school and college football players are not at risk from concussions. CTE is one of many consequences resulting from concussions.
Last year, an Ohio State University football player entered a dumpster on campus and shot himself. In the last few days of his life, family members recall him complaining about suffering from concussion aftereffects. Post-concussion syndrome can lead to the development of major depression.
Brain injuries are not the only risk to football players. Earlier this year, we lost a teenage athlete here in Lafayette to a football-related injury. Abdominal and spinal cord injuries are also possible with contact sports. A discussion on football and catastrophic injuries could become the first step in finding solutions that can help protect athletes.