01.27.09

(With Apologies To The Angry Samoans) Tom McHale’s Brain Is Calling

Posted in Gridiron, Medical Science at 5:52 pm by

After examining brain tissue from deceased NFL vets including but not limited to John Grimsley, Mike Webster, Andre Waters, Justin Strzelczyk and Terry Long, The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy released a study Tuesday about the 6th documented case of chronic traumatic encephalopath (aka CTE), this time in the form of deceased Tamba Bay lineman Tom McHale (above).  From CNN.com’s Stephanie Smith :

CTE has thus far been found in the brains of six out of six former NFL players.

“What’s been surprising is that it’s so extensive,” said McKee. “It’s throughout the brain, not just on the superficial aspects of the brain, but it’s deep inside.”

CSTE studies reveal brown tangles flecked throughout the brain tissue of former NFL players who died young — some as early as their 30s or 40s.

McKee, who also studies Alzheimer’s disease, says the tangles closely resemble what might be found in the brain of an 80-year-old with dementia.

“I knew what traumatic brain disease looked like in the very end stages, in the most severe cases,” said McKee. “To see the kind of changes we’re seeing in 45-year-olds is basically unheard of.”

The damage affects the parts of the brain that control emotion, rage, hypersexuality, even breathing, and recent studies find that CTE is a progressive disease that eventually kills brain cells.

In a statement, the NFL indicated that their staffs take a cautious, conservative approach to managing concussions.

While they support research into the impact of concussions, they maintain that, “Hundreds of thousands of people have played football and other sports without experiencing any problem of this type and there continues to be considerable debate within the medical community on the precise long-term effects of concussions and how they relate to other risk factors.”

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