29 January 2009. The New York Times yesterday continued its coverage of the contentious question of whether repeated sports concussions predispose a fraction of players to brain damage that accelerates the development of dementia and other neurologic diseases otherwise known to occur mostly in the elderly. Titled New Sign of Brain Damage in N.F.L., this latest story by reporter Alan Schwarz recounts the case of Tom McHale, an NFL lineman who died last May at the age of 45.
According to the article, pathologists at Boston University and at MGH confirmed the presence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in McHale’s brain. This condition is more commonly known as a consequence of professional boxing, and thought to cause symptoms that partially overlap with Alzheimer’s in some people.
Some of the scientists cited in the story, including Ann McKee of Boston University, Daniel Perl of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and Ira Casson of the NFL’s committee dealing with concussions, participated in the Alzforum Live Discussion on the issue last spring. Athletes have since begun donating their brains to the new Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (see ARF related news story). National Public Radio last month ran a show on the topic featuring NFL wives (Concussions and the NFL).—Gabrielle Strobel.