DJ, I love you.
Hi, everyone! It certainly has nothing to do with the readers. You guys are the best. I'm still here as a fan :)
LOL, my sincerest apologies for the undue stress.
Yes, Junior Seau's brain was donated for research & he had confirmed chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the report from the lab.
Thank you! I agree with you on helmets – they can lend a false sense of security. There's even a term for this; it's called "risk compensation," where athletes play differently because of the misguided belief that the helmet is protecting them. I like to emphasize that NO helmet can prevent a concussion, and NO helmet takes the place of proper tackling form.
As far as schemes, I share your sentiment. The spread offense with read option makes me especially nervous.
Great questions! Hopefully I can help answer some...
- No formal research has been done yet on players who have had full careers under the new protocols. The NFL changes described in the article were just initiated in 2013, so it will certainly be interesting to see studies like this in the future.
- There are some gray areas. CTE is often mixed with other neuropathology on autopsy. A lot of the findings overlap with the findings in a brain with Alzheimer's dementia. However, CTE has been distinguished by the location of the abnormalities within the brain – preferential involvement of certain areas which clinically correlates with a history of repeated head trauma.
- You're absolutely right to question the effect of substance use. The abuse of alcohol and/or illicit drugs can add insult to (literal) injury – that is, using substances which work on neurotransmitters can exacerbate pre-existing neuropathology.
- Your comments on depression are spot on. It is a big factor. Suicide in depressed patients is unfortunately common. When a star athlete commits suicide, it gets media attention. Because of that, we have a bias of thinking it happens more than with the general population. However, the athletes in this article (other than Karageorge) all had confirmed CTE. So they could have had depression because of CTE or depression on top of CTE, but CTE was present on autopsy. I also want to note that these athletes' CTE could have been subclinical (meaning they had it on a cellular level, but it never manifested symptomatically), and their depression could have been very clinically apparent and therefore the primary motivation for suicide. It would be hard to differentiate, but you made an important point.
Thank you for reading the article & sharing your thoughts!
Thank you, NavyBuckeye. That's exactly right. The precise details of each of the surgeries & their respective locations within the shoulder were never made public.
Bo Jackson in that game is the best reference ever.
Very well said. Thank you for your comment.
It certainly plays a role. Patient education is huge for this aspect of recovery. I think compliance peaks when athletes truly understand the mechanism of their injury, how the treatment protocol was specially designed and individualized, and why the management strategy should work well for their specific case.
Thank you for your feedback. The article is mostly meant to focus on the reason for the surgery and also to emphasize why it became a good option for Dixon. The recovery time has a wide range depending on lots of individual variables. It's tough to speculate when exactly any athlete will be back to 100% play. That will be a collaborative effort between Dixon, his medical team, and the coaches. They made an investment in his health by committing to the surgery (and the long recovery), so it will be exciting to know that when he returns, it is truly the optimal time for him.