Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Another case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a football player
The Huffington Post reports today on the suicide of a University of Pennsylvania football player. Neuropathologists at Boston University performed a brain autopsy which showed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The New York Times also reported on this case. The young football player's mother wanted to make the results public, saying "there's nothing trivial about this whatsoever. Anyone who thinks that this can be swept under the carpet is in for a big shock. It's a big implication here." The implication being, of course, that CTE contributed to the young man's depression which, in turn, led to his suicide. "How can you blame football for the kid's suicide?", one might ask. I don't think anyone is making that kind of simplistic connection. There is evidence that the young man had brain damage, and one might infer that it came from playing football. Perhaps brain trauma in an individual who is genetically predisposed to CTE may be a contributing factor leading to suicide. That speculation alone ought to be enough to make parents think twice before enrolling their kid in a football program.