Sep 25, 2011

A Chance to Focus on Dementia Caused by Sports Trauma

"Dementia has long been a severe problem for former NFL players. In the past, the 88 Fund was established specifically to support care for football players who develop dementia. There is a growing movement among NFL retirees to donate their brains to the center for CTE at Boston University Medical School. Only via autopsy can the true extent of damage be documented and the diagnosis of CTE confirmed.

That is why it is so shocking to me that players still headhunt on the field and fans scream for harder hits from the stands. When a helmet-to-helmet collision occurs on a football field, a player suffers brain damage. NFL players should find it unacceptable behavior to cause brain damage to a colleague." -- Neil Minkoff

By +Max Wallack 
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

In Fixing a Broken Play, an article appearing in today’s National Review, Dr. Neil Minkoff points out the important opportunity that President Obama has to make a real difference in the frequent and horrible dementias that are showing up among our former sports heroes.

Apparently, the President has invited the 1985 Chicago Bears, that year’s Super Bowl winners, to visit the White House for a celebration. Because of the Challenger disaster, the White House celebration customary for Super Bowl winners never took place in 1985.

Dr. Minkoff points out that Jim MacMahon, the 1985 quarterback for the Chicago Bears, “has no memory left”, and very likely suffers from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Dr. Minkoff suggests that this meeting at the White House would be the perfect opportunity for our President to take a stand by publicizing the situation and urging the NFL to take a stronger stand against plays that increase the risk of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

I agree. President Obama could and should use this opportunity to bring focus to the large numbers of former sports heroes suffering from dementia.

Max Wallack is a student at Boston University Academy. His great grandmother, Gertrude, suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Max is the founder of PUZZLES TO REMEMBER. PTR is a project that provides puzzles to nursing homes and veterans institutions that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.

Original content Max Wallack, the Alzheimer's Reading Room