Friday August 11, 2017
more stories from this episode
With NFL pre-season games underway, concerns over concussions — and their long-term effects on players — is more serious than ever according to irrefutable proof detailed in a study last month.
It reveals after examining brains of 111 deceased football players, all but one showed signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or “CTE.” The degenerative brain disease, caused by repeated head hit, is marked by memory loss, depression, and even suicide.
It might sound shocking, but it’s not a new revelation for Dr. Bennet Omalu, author of Truth Doesn’t Have a Side. If his name sounds familiar, you may have seen him portrayed by Will Smith in the Hollywood movie version of his story, Concussion.
‘There is no justifiable reason whatsoever why a child under the age of 18 should continue to play these games.’ – Dr. Bennet Omalu
The Nigerian-American forensic pathologist and neuropathologist discovered the condition and coined the term CTE back in 2002. He warns CTE is only one condition of a very broad spectrum of diseases following blows to the head.
“If your child plays any of these high impact, high contact, coalition sports and receives repeated blows to the head … your child is more likely to die before the age of 42 through violent means,” Dr. Omalu tells The Current‘s host Megan Williams.
He adds that a child has about two to four times increased risk of committing suicide or suffering from a major psychiatric illness, including major depression, by playing dangerous contact sports.
“Knowing what we know today, there is no justifiable reason whatsoever why a child under the age of 18 should continue to play these games. These games are potentially dangerous and should be left for only adults.”
‘If you love your son and daughter, why would you intentionally expose him or her to the risk of permanent brain damage.’ – Dr. Bennet Omalu
Over 15 years ago, Dr. Omalu says he warned people of the risk exposure to brain damage associated with playing contact sports. No one listened, but he believes physicians need to speak out.
“We have always known dating back centuries that in whatever human activity whereby the head is exposed to repeated blows, there is a very, very high chance of brain damage — if not 100 per cent risk of brain damage.”
In society, Dr. Omalu argues, when a potential risk factor is identified that could harm children, preventative measures are taken. “We don’t allow children to drink alcohol,” he points out.
It’s unlikely the NFL will address this problem, according to Dr. Omalu, but he advises parents to take a stand, saying, “the NFL is not there to protect your child for you.”
“It is your duty as a parent to ask yourself that question: Do I love hockey more than I love my child? Do I love football more than I love my child?” Dr. Omalu implores.
“Every parent loves his or her son and daughter, so if you love your son and daughter, why would you intentionally expose him or her to the risk of permanent brain damage?”
Listen to the full segment near the top of this web post.
This segment was produced by The Current’s Samira Mohyeddin and Howard Goldenthal.