MAR 24, 2015 12:50 PM PDT

Brain Injuries - Not Worth the Risk for One NFL Player

It's not all in your head. Brain injuries from sports are a steady unease for athletes. Even with advancements in safety, concerns are strong enough to make one young National Football League player call it quits before collecting on a more than $3 million contract, CNN reported. Chris Borland, 24, announced his retirement from the NFL earlier this week "because he was worried about the long-term effects of head trauma."

Borland researched the effects of concussions and came to his decision, citing the risk of brain disease. "To me just the chance of that happening was more of a negative than the positive that my potential career could be," Borland told ESPN.

According to a Bioscience Technology article, recent studies identified brain damage in some NFL players, and revealed it could be more severe in those who started playing before age 12.

Matt Lombardo for NJ Advance Media reported on ESPN NFL analyst and former Vice Chairman of the Indianapolis Colts Bill Polian's view. Polian said there is danger in football, just like there is in the military.

Indeed, a residential neuro-rehabilitation facility based in Ann Arbor, Michigan opened up its brain-injury treatment program, which was originally designed for military veterans injured in battle, to welcome professional athletes.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease that can only be diagnosed after death, and has been found in a number of NFL players. According to Boston University's CTE Center, the disease is often found in athletes, with "repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head." The disease is linked to memory loss, aggression, depression, and eventually progressive dementia.

Seventy-six of 79 deceased NFL players, whose brain tissue was studied by researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs' brain repository in Bedford, Mass., tested positive for CTE.

Brains of non-professional athletes, including high-school players, also tested positive for the disease.

"Who knows how many hits is too many," Borland told ESPN.

Researchers have come up with a two-minute flashcard test that requires no medical training to administer and can reliably determine whether an athlete suffered a concussion, the New York Times reported.

Borland said he does not think people should stop playing football completely, but urged parents to do two things: make an informed decision and not let kids play through concussions.
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
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