Neurosurgeon Plano TX: Basics of chronic traumatic encephalopathy
For a neurosurgeon Plano TX, concussions are a topic of regular conversation. Texas is a "football state," and as such, we probably see a higher number of concussions than many others. One topic that has been circulating around the football world lately is chronic traumatic encephalopathy---a degenerative brain disease rearing its ugly head in NFL headlines.
With so many health professionals and former players are arguing that the NFL hid the negative effects of CTE from them, here are some of the basics that you should know about the problem.
Neurosurgery Plano TX: What's The Root Cause of CTE?
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy originates with an abnormal type of protein called Tau. This protein can grow and take over parts of the brain. The problem lies in the fact that Tau kills brain cells as it grows.
So what ties tau into football? The Tau protein build-up is caused by frequent and repeated trauma to the head. Scientists believe that it is the "sloshing" of the brain inside the skull (rather than the actual impact of the outside object itself) that causes the tau build-up. CNN Health describes this scenario with the example of an egg in the shell. Even if you make the shell harder, repeatedly hitting the egg will cause the yolk to "slosh," much the same way as the brain will move inside the skull. In short, harder helmets don't stop the development of CTE.
Interestingly enough, a neurosurgeon Plano TX would tell a young football player that you don't have to sustain a concussion to be at risk---repeatedly hitting your head in practice and in games can still have the same effect. Granted, the harder the impact, the more your brain will be jostled.
Is CTE a risk for other sports as well?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. In soccer, players are expected to repeatedly "head" the ball, an act that can lead to tau buildup in the brain as well. Hockey and boxing are two more high-impact sports where athletes have been identified to have CTE. The biggest issue, however, is that there aren't any cures for this degenerative disease as of yet. In fact, it wasn't until recently that doctors even identified the disease in living athletes (most research had been done from postmortem autopsies).
With severe effects like dementia, violent behavior, cognitive decline, and speech impairments, medical professionals are hoping to find a cure before the next generation of NFL players suffers the same problems as the last.
In the meantime, if you need to speak with a neurosurgeon Plano TX, call (972) 943-9779 to set up an appointment.