Chaz Geraghty & Kameron Gentry; Farnsley Middle School (Louisville, KY)
Mark Geraghty, age 49, played football for seven years and was been diagnosed with CTE in 2012.
“It was a terrible experience [learning that he had CTE],” recalls Geraghty. “I didn’t know that getting multiple concussions in football could lead to head aches and memory loss.”
CTE stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by concussions and repeated head trauma. He now goes to the doctor weekly and is still having headaches daily.
According to protectthebrain.org, a brain injury research institute website, the brain of someone who suffers from CTE will, over time, end up losing mass. Certain areas of the brain are likely to atrophy.
Wikipedia states that atrophy is the wasting away of some or all parts of the body. Memory loss and headaches are symptoms of CTE. Doctors have found another symptom is behavior and mood problems. Big changes in behavior follow from the deaths of neurons in the brain.
CTE is commonly found in people who have played football or who have boxed and was first diagnosed in a boxer. Brain Injury Research Institute at University of California Davis Drs. Bennet Omalu and Julian Bailes were the first to diagnose CTE in a professional football player in 2002. According to nfl.com, the official website for the NFL, there were 182 cases of CTE in the NFL in 2015. Omalu also figured out that the position of center in football was where players got hit the most and would therefore cause the most brain injuries. However, Mark Geraghty played running back.
Omalu started studying CTE because of former Pittsburg Steeler player, Mike Webster. Before he died in 2002, people thought he was crazy and had dementia.
According to the Mayo Clinic, dementia describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily functioning. Omalu figured out it wasn’t dementia because Mike Webster was too young to die at age 50 from dementia and it led him to study Webster’s brain. A lot of former Pittsburgh Steelers players were eventually diagnosis with CTE after they were noticed as having similar symptoms and dying at an early age.
In a 2015 editorial published on nytimes.com, Don’t Let Your Kids Play Football, Omalu wrote, “Kids also have a risk of CTE like major depression, memory loss, and suicidal thoughts and actions.”
In a 2013 UCLA study, researchers discovered that to find out if someone has CTE they can identify concentrations of tau protein in the brain. According to dictionary.com, tau proteins are proteins that are an important component of nerve cells, helping to maintain their function. When you get CTE, the parts of your neurons that send information become tangled and eventually die causing you to have the terrible symptoms of CTE.
CTE is a life-changing disease caused by many head injuries. Doctors are still trying to find a way to cure it and hopefully that will come soon because CTE is changing the lives of hundreds of athletes who suffer concussions. Luckily, the number of athletes who get concussions is decreasing. Espn.go.com states that concussions decreased 25% last season in the NFL but they didn’t say why.
Chaz Geraghty and Kameron Gentry
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