New Brain-Trauma Study Makes Big Splash

Ann McKee, MD, a professor of neurology and pathology at Boston University School of Medicine and a Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives member, was featured earlier this week on The News with Brian Williams on NBC-TV. McKee was interviewed in a segment that focused on new findings in a four-year study that links head trauma to long-term degenerative brain disease.

The study is the most comprehensive to date on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Its findings were based on study of the donated brains of 85 people, 80 percent men (68), nearly all of whom played sports. Asked if she would allow her own children to play football, McKee, a mother who grew up as a diehard Green Bay Packers fan, responded: “It’s a really tough question for me. I really don’t know.”

The study—also featured on the front page of the New York Times sports section and in other media—will be the focus of a story next month in Cerebrum. Our story will be written by one of the study’s co-authors, Chris Nowinski, co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine and co-founder and president of the Sports Legacy Institute, a Boston-based non-profit dedicated to solving the sports concussion crisis.

After an all-Ivy League career at Harvard, Nowinski became a renowned character in World Wrestling Entertainment. Diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, he began a quest to better understand his condition, and realized that a lack of awareness about brain trauma among athletes, coaches, and even medical professionals cost him his career, and threatens the health and well-being of athletes of all ages. This led him to write the critically acclaimed book, Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis, published in 2006; his profile and work in degenerative brain disease has been featured three times by HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel .

– Bill Glovin

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