I read an article with my mom about brain injuries and degenerative disease in military personnel and athletes in the NY Times.  Dr. Lee E. Goldstein of Boston University’s School of Medicine and Dr. Ann McKee, co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University published a study in the Journal Science Translational Medicine in May of 2012.

“Scientists who have studied a degenerative brain disease in athletes have found the same condition in combat veterans exposed to roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, concluding that such explosions injure the brain in ways strikingly similar to tackles and punches.  The researchers also discovered what they believe is the mechanism by which explosions damage brain tissue and trigger the wasting disease, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., by studying simulated explosions on mice.  The animals developed evidence of the disease just two weeks after exposure to a single simulated blast, researchers said.”  NY Times, published 5/16/12

“Since 2001, the military has confirmed traumatic brain injury-widely considered the precursor to C.T.E.  C.T.E. causes neurological decay and is linked to memory loss, personality changes, impaired judgment, depression and dementia.”  NY Times, published 5/16/12

C.T.E is only found by autopsy and cannot be cured. Servicemen and women were thought to have a psychological illness or a brain injury when they came back from combat and their doctors and family members were not even sure what was going wrong.  The family may have seen a big change in their loved ones’ personality.  Maybe their doctors or therapist or wife or husband thought the changes were stress related or that he/she was having a hard time adjusting to life at home.  Athletes also have a hard time adjusting after retirement and their personality can go through changes too.  Football players have head injuries from concussions.  Boxers have repeated hits to the head.

According to the Los Angeles Times article dated 1/28/09, “Repeated concussions lead to severe brain disease, research shows” written by Thomas H. Maugh II, CTE was identified in the autopsy of NFL player, Tom McHale.  He was 45 years old and played in the NFL for nine years.  He suffered from emotional and behavioral issues and he died from an overdose.  “The biopsy was the sixth out of six performed on deceased NFL players between the ages of 25 and 50 that showed evidence of such severe damage. All six men suffered emotional and behavioral problems after their playing days were over, often culminating in erratic behavior, drug abuse and suicide or overdose.”

Concussions are a huge factor in CTE and all of the behavioral changes that come with it.  Dr. Maryse Lassonde of the University of Montreal and is the neuropsychologist for the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens is the senior author of the study and Dr. McKee performed the biopsy on Mr. McHale.

My bottom line is, if someone you know has served and is acting erratic, do not turn your back on him/her or shun him/her.  In the NY Times and other newspapers and magazines there are more and more articles letting us know that suicides in the military are rising.  I will talk about this in other blogs.  If someone’s personality has changed, if they have become depressed or aggressive, or their memory is decreased, take them to see a psychologist, psychiatrist, regular medical doctor, or neurologist and do not doubt them. 

About sports related head injuries, there really is no sport that does not involve injuries.  I always wear a helmet when I ride my bike, use my scooter or go horseback riding.  People should enjoy the sports they play, but take the precautions that are given.

Your Neighbor,


Repeated concussions lead to severe brain disease, research shows

Brain Ailments in Veterans Likened to Those in Athletes

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