Professional athletes to donate brain to research

What happens to our favorite athletes after retirement? They step away from the spotlight, and move on.

However, I think its safe to say, our athletes thrive for attention.

Some of these American icons will be changing it up though and will still be making history and breaking records. These records won’t be on the field or courts, however, but rather the field of science.

The National Football League Players Association, (NFLPA), announced on Oct. 12 they will be collaborating with the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE).

So far, ten former NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE.

CTE is a progressive brain disease caused by repetitive and subconncussive brain trauma.

Lou Creekmur, Tom McHale, John Grimsley and Wally Hilgenberg, have all been diagnosed with this heartbreaking disease. These men have been heroes for many who didn’t have an opportunity to fulfill the American football fantasy.

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Creekmur died on July 5, 2009, after a progressive decline, that caused behavior issues, memory loss, lack of attention, little to no organizational skills and angry and aggressive outbursts.

Due to the amount of concussions and head trauma professional football athletes endure each year, head trauma is on the top of NFLPA’s safety list. The NFL has begun a crackdown on helmet-to-helmet hits, issuing large fines to Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather and Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson.

It’s now seen as a crisis, as some of our favorite athletes fear CTC to be a destiny they are headed towards.

For your average athlete growing up, a simple concussion isn’t feared, nor is it discouraged.

Blood shot eyes, projectile vomiting, and a migraine is okay because the pain will pass and you will get through it.

Everything will be fine, just give it a couple days, but what happens in ten years?

I am an athlete myself, and understand the pain of injury. A pain we know will heal eventually in time. Reality is that it may end up sticking with you for the rest of your life.

As an athlete I feared doctor offices, because the man standing in front of me with bad hand writing and a white jacket could say, I need to take time off from soccer, flag football, or any other physical activity I wanted to take part in.

As you sit furiously in the waiting room, you mind is thinking one question. Will they still let me play?

We grow up in this competitive world where you’re taught to play through pain. It’s the future consequences that may hurt or even kill us. But maybe, just maybe, that is due to the lack of knowledge we have on the topic of CTE, and other brain related injuries.

Not just our professional athletes are at risk, it’s anyone who has ever been checked, tackled, pushed into goal post, kicked, slide tackled or punched, who is at risk.

We can thank our retired NFL players, hockey players, and professional wrestlers for contributing there beaten and battered brains, to help the current and future athletes who are at risk to suffer from this devastating disease.

In the last two years, 300 athletes have agreed to go through annual tests, led by CSTE co-director Robert Stern.

Sixty-one of these athletes have pledges to donate their brain and spinal cords to CSTE after death.

What I begin to fear is that even I am at risk. I played sports competitively for ten years, this isn’t including all the head throbbing tumbles I have taken in Alaska’s snowy terrain. It could be anyone, this being why this program at the University of Boston could be so crucial for helping making the future of athletics just a little bit safer.

Anyone who plans to, has been or still is an athlete of some sort should be thanking the NFL for donating $1 million to CSTE funds which will be put toward better treatment of concussions.