Recently an article was published in JAMA by Mez, Daneshvar, and Kiernan et al that investigated the frequency of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in football players. It has become a topic of controversy because CTE has become a red flag for the public eye. It is now known to be correlated with repetitive trauma from popular impact sports such as hockey, football, and even soccer. While many hope to avoid or prevent the progression of this disease, there is currently no definitive causation and therefore no cure-all. CTE is a post mortem diagnosis that requires evidence of an accumulation of certain proteins along with other neurological criteria.
Mez, Daneshvar, and Kiernan et al used current classification systems to evaluate and assess 207 donated brains of football players. An overwhelming majority of them (87%) met the criteria for neuropathological diagnosis of CTE and the article detailed severity of symptoms (pre-mortem) associated with severity of CTE as well as mean age of death. While the article suggested a relationship between higher level of football participation (NFL) and worse disease presentation, the authors were definitely not stating a cause and effect relationship. The conveniance sample was for investigating possible relationships between activity levels and disease burden. This was an observational study with no constant or variables to compare.
Studies have shown that while living, a person with CTE may present with similar behaviors and cognitive impairments to that of a person with mood disorders, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease. Mez, Daneshvar, and Kiernan et al outlined common characteristics and behaviors of the people that were diagnosed with CTE and therefore provided a foundation for future studies to help eventually determine causation, a sensitive and specific means of evaluation, and prevention. Until then, athletes of all levels must try their best to avoid repetitive and unecessary microtaumas. Playing smart and competitively, not aggresively, can help minimize repeated impact and trauma in every game.
Elizabeth Lamontagne PT, DPT, SCS, CKTP
FL quarterbacks are padding the injury reports, and their injuries are not only impacting game outcomes but resulting in unanticipated trades. Some injuries, like the clavicle (collarbone) fracture suffered by Raiders QB, Jason Campbell, are obvious game changers. With the team possibly playoff bound, and with a field leader definitively unable to go, it was abandon hope or find a replacement to preserve the possibilities. Hence the arrival of Carson Palmer.
Other QBs, playing injured because that’s what football players do, are struggling to play to their healthy potentials and squeaking by or taking the losses as a result. Tony Romo is a case in point. With a winable game on the line, even his coach, Jason Garrett, lacked confidence in Romo’s ability to throw for distance in the final series. Game, set, match.
Poor Sam Bradford, of the St. Louis Rams, has had one setback after another. In September he played with a finger injury, and now he is likely out with a high ankle sprain. This after a college career that saw the 2008 Heisman winner through at least two shoulder injuries that resulted in surgery during his senior season. Though in a walking boot this week, Bradford is still not officially counted out for this Sunday. So what that it’s his left ankle and he throws off his right? He’d still have to be able to move out there, yes? A high ankle sprain is a big deal, especially if severe. Bradford can’t possibly be effective if he plays hurt, particularly while still in the acute post-injury period. (For more on the
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nature of high ankle sprains read an earlier post on Maurice Pouncey).
Matt Schaub of the Texans is another QB with a new injury. His sore hip isn’t expected to keep him on the sidelines, but may impair his mobility and make him vulnerable.
Michael Vick finally pulled one out for the Eagles on Sunday, in spite of an early scare (again?), when it seemed like he’d suffered another concussion. This year’s self proclaimed “dream team” is a major disappointment, but Vick has been a warrior and is like one of those inflatable punching bag dolls who just keeps taking hits and bouncing back for more.
I think the quarterbacks featured in the NFL injury report would vote unanimously to
beef up their offensive lines. These guys are taking a beating.
The most dramatic quarterback injury story this season is that of Peyton Manning. After three neck surgeries, and despite his insistence otherwise, it seems likely that Manning’s Hall of Fame career is over. The Colts’ recovery has been as tortuous as Manning’s. Here is another team with a huge disparity between it’s starting QB and his back-ups. Injuries are certainly altering the destiny of many teams this season. The impact has been felt at many positions, though quarterbacks may get the most attention.
Though not losing their starting spots because of injury, still other starting quarterbacks are looking at sitting down the rest of the way. Whether you call it age or fading ability, Donovan McNabb and Kyle Orton have been replaced by their next in line. It appears their careers are soon to be history. For McNabb, it’s been a spiral downward that has deflated a legacy that might have led to the Hall of Fame. Though they say he hasn’t been the same since leaving Philly, to me, McNabb failed to live up to expectations while an Eagle. He somehow always came close but fell short.
As my husband, sportscaster Dave Sims, always says about the expected and unexpected things that happen in baseball, “That’s baseball”. You can sum up this quarterback situation by saying, “That’s the NFL”.
Follow Abby on Twitter @abcsims