Nearly a decade of research has provided scientists with sufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is indeed an epidemic waiting to break loose. As our society has become increasingly interested in sports, there is no surprise a rise in athletic injuries has taken place. According to Consumer Health Daily professional athletes, along with five other occupations, had up to 1,000 injuries per 10,000 workers in one year (Consumer,2018). That is 10% of their workers that ended the year with a concussion or injury of some kind putting them out of work. Why wouldn’t scientists take an interest in this topic after such a spike in injury rates?

Not only are our professional athletes affected by this degrading condition, but military personnel suffer from CTE, along with wrestlers, hockey players, and even athletes as young as 14 in middle school and high school who participate in contact sports are putting themselves at risk for developing CTE.

CTE’s pathology contributes to the many symptoms experienced by athletes suffering from this disease including hallucinations, memory loss, headaches, and in more severe cases dementia (NCBI,2017). The underlying pathology consists of the deposit of protein that creates a chemical imbalance in the brain. When athletes hit heads the protein “tau” is released and begins to collect in areas of the brain, mainly the corpus callosum (NCBI,2017). Eventually, the brain weight begins to reduce as well as the overall thickness of the corpus callosum that connects the two parts of the brain (NCBI,2017). Atrophy persist on the frontal lobe of the brain, which controls thinking and memory in an individual (NCBI, 2017). An individual can experience up to four stages of CTE which has allowed scientists to determine the severity of CTE in individuals and group them according to how persistent their symptoms may be or what symptoms may be occuring at the time.

CTE has been communicated throughout society using pop culture.. Will Smith, a popular actor favored by our younger generation, played the role in Concussion, a movie produced in 2015 by Sony Pictures. This movie production illustrated a debate between the NFL and Bennet Omalu a neurologist who discovered CTE. It brought to light the significance of CTE and it’s chronic effects on contact players in sports.

Unfortunately, CTE can only be diagnosed through autopsy as of now. Researching this disease and learning more about the effects of it brings hope for another solution to diagnosing CTE pre-mortem.

CTE development can be reduced by taking preventative measurements such as changing the age requirement for contact sports in younger age groups, altering rules and regulations in sports to protect players against injuries such as concussions leading to CTE, educate players on safety and awareness, and test player equipment for effectiveness prior to game-time for safety. Taking these steps will lead to reduced risk of brain injury and increased player safety.

Year Manuscript Completed

Spring 2018

Senior Project Advisor

Dr. Miranda Terry

Degree Awarded

Bachelor of Integrated Studies Degree

Field of Study

Health & Exercise Studies

Document Type

Thesis - Murray State Access only

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