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Old 10-10-2013, 01:52 PM   #56
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elsid13's Avatar
Bóg, Honor, Ojczyzna

Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: DC
Posts: 22,675

I am posting because I thought it was good story and nice counterpoint to the frontline story, though I don't agree with the writer completely

Late last fall, as the NFL playoff picture began to take shape, I was summoned to the psychiatric ward of my hospital. As an HIV specialist, I routinely encounter patients with mental health issues who have trouble taking their medications, but when I read the page requesting my consultation, I noticed something unusual. The name of the patient I was asked to examine was a famous one. In the interest of patient privacy I will just mention that the uncommon name matched that of someone who is considered one of the greatest of his generation to play his position in the NFL. He is not publicly known to have HIV.
When I entered the patient's room, I found an enormous man in a rumpled mess on the floor. He was barefoot, wearing blue hospital scrubs, and he hadn't shaved in several days. He weighed perhaps 300 pounds and looked exhausted, but I could still recognize the man I watched during his NFL playing days. When I sat down on one of the two narrow hospital beds in his room, he flinched and turned away from me.
"I'm Dr. McCarthy," I said softly. "Your medical team asked me to come by to talk with you. Do you have a few minutes?"

We sat in silence—a brief silence that physicians eventually become comfortable with—before the man began to speak. He told me that 24 hours earlier, he had tried to kill himself. He'd made a string of bad business investments; his interpersonal relationships were crumbling; and he was having trouble with his memory. Like many in the ward, he said he couldn't see a reason to continue living this way, and as a result he had stopped taking all of his medications. He also told me he knew he had "that head trauma thing." Because he had not mentioned his days in the NFL, I did not either. But I knew what he was referring to.

"CTE?" I asked. He nodded, and when I saw the look on his face—the fear, the despair—I knew I needed to choose my words carefully.

This season, puddles of ink will be spilled linking head trauma to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, explaining how cognitive and behavioral changes continue to occur in current and former NFL players, destroying their once remarkable lives and the lives of those around them. You will see these stories on the front pages of the most prominent newspapers and magazines in the country, written by sportswriters who, frankly, don't understand the science and have long overstated what is actually known about the condition.

Despite what you've read, the cause-and-effect relationship between head trauma and CTE is far from scientifically verified. The direct and seemingly obvious connection tends to be taken for granted by journalists, but it hasn't been established at the highest level of evidence.
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