To The Editor:

CTE – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions, as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head, that do not cause symptoms.

CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s. In recent years, CTE has been confirmed in football and hockey players, and also in athletes who did not play sports after high school or college.

Repeated brain trauma causes the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. Brain changes can begin months, years, even decades after athletic trauma.

Common symptoms include memory loss, confusion, impulse control problems, depression, suicidality, and eventually dementia.

Dr. Bennet Omalu is a physician, forensic pathologist and neuropathologist. He was the first to discover and publish findings of chronic CTE in America. Dr. Omalu identified CTE during an autopsy of former Pittsburg Steeler center Mike Webster in 2002.

Recently, researchers at a Boston brain bank studied 202 brains donated by families of deceased football players at all levels. Nearly 90 percent were found to have CTE to some degree.

Dr. Omalu was not affiliated with this study, but said even a negative CTE result does not mean a player’s brain remained unscathed while playing football. Dr. Omalu said, “there is no thing as a safe blow to the head.” Dr. Omalu said parents must ask themselves a question: “Do I love football more than I love my child?”

Dr. Omalu believes no one under 18 should be playing football, that there is a 100 percent risk of exposure, that “it is the definition of child abuse.” The NFL was sued by more than 4,000 players who claimed the league hid known concussions risks, leading to high rates of dementia, depression and even suicides.

In the 8-27-17 issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, writer, Tony Messenger interviewed John Gaal Sr. regarding his late son, John Jr., who played soccer and football at Kennedy High School, who after a yearlong battle with concussions and mental illness, killed himself. He was 24.

Readers may want to research Dr. Bennet Omalu’s books: “Truth Doesn’t Have a Side” and “Play Hard, Die Young: Football, Dementia, Depression, and Death.”

PBS’s program: Frontline “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis.”

                                Mary Lee Kliethermes