How does Brain Trauma affect UCO football?
Philadelphia Eagles’ Brandon Graham, center, strips the ball from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Minneapolis. The Eagles recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Currently, one of football’s biggest controversy is brain trauma or chronic traumatic encephalopathy also known as CTE. The origin of CTE begins in the 1920’s when it was referred to as “punch drunk syndrome.” CTE is a degenerative disease of the brain caused by the buildup of the tau protein. Concussions and continuous hits to the head have been linked to causing CTE.
However, the National Football League has been reluctant to address the issue.
“We don’t have that knowledge and background, and scientifically, so there’s no way in the world to say you have a relationship relative to anything here,” said Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during a recent interview with the Washington Post. “There’s no research. There’s no data… we’re not disagreeing. We’re just basically saying the same thing. We’re doing a lot more. It’s kind of thing that you want to work… to prevent injury.
The precautions and safety measures in football are a huge factor in showing how much we truly can protect these players from brain injury, according to retired Oklahoma neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Cagle. There’s no such thing as a concussion-proof helmet, he said.
“The problem with the sizing helmets is you start trading one problem for another,” Cagle said. “The force is going to have to be transferred somewhere. You divert it from the head, you go to the neck. You transfer from the neck, you go to the spine below.”
Former Oklahoma State University defensive lineman and 1987 New York Giants player Warren Thompson said he still suffers from memory loss. “I don’t think I have any cognitive impairment I can critically think about a situation. I can think abstractly and I can still visualize everything, but taking those abstract terms and verbalize them — it’s like a word is missing.” Warren copes by writing everything down so when he forgets things he can refer to his notes.
Thompson doesn’t know whether or not he ever had an official concussion but he does recall getting his “bell rung” “where everything goes black.” He said once he was in a game where he started bleeding out of his ears and thought to himself should I really be going back into the game? But he said “once you get your senses back you want to get back into the game.”
Cagle said young children should abstain from participating in contact sports. “Fifth grade is plenty early to start most sports,” Cagle said. “It will get to the point of brain maturation. You really don’t have your brain fully myelinated (the covering of the nerves in your brain) yet.”
“If I had a son I wouldn’t have him playing football, I would have him playing baseball,” Thompson said. “If I would have done it over again I would have picked baseball.”
Current University of Central Oklahoma football players Bear Hope and Jas’sen Stoner continue to play football despite the risk of permanent brain injury. Stoner said he worries about it, “zero percent of the time.”
“Now is the time everyone should be worried,” Cagle said.
“The problem is the NFL is so powerful and the public appetite is so great we are generally influenced by the public appetite,” Cagle said. “It’s like the roman gladiators they want their gladiators on the field. I don’t know the answer but they need to do something about it.”