Traumatic Brain Injuries and Professional Football
Last December, 26-year-old Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry perished when he was thrown from a truck driven by his girlfriend. Later examination of the young NFL star found extensive brain damage, usually only seen in older players with many years (and concussions) under their belts.
The traumatic brain injury inside the young athlete's head was shocking to doctors.
In fact, Henry is the youngest player ever to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a particular sort of degenerative disease caused exhibited by individuals who have suffered repeated concussions and other head injuries.
There have been several high-profile instances of former NFL players, later found to have CTE, who have either passed away or committed suicide. The disease can affect mood, memory and temper. It can give sufferers intense headaches that intensify with exposure to light. Some become confused and depressed after suffering wild mood swings.
Still, few active players are adequately informed when it comes to the danger of CTE and its potential affects. Some have cast doubt on the NFL's dedication to pursuing a solution to something that would surely take away from the brutal intensity of the game.
Still, NFL executives are taking steps to better protect players and better understand the effects of head and brain injuries. In June, the NFL held a joint conference with John Hopkins University that focused on traumatic brain injuries.