FRIDAY, July 29 (HealthDay News) -- The brains of two of four
former Canadian Football League players showed signs of a brain
disease associated with concussions, say researchers with the
Canadian Sports Concussion Project.
Preliminary findings revealed that Bobby Kuntz (of the Toronto
Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats) and Jay Roberts (of the Ottawa
Rough Riders) had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Both
players suffered repeated concussions during their playing
CTE is characterized by an abnormal accumulation of a protein
called Tau in the brain, along with other degenerative changes. The
disease can cause poor memory, emotional instability, erratic
behavior, impulse control problems and depression. CTE can develop
into full-blown dementia.
The four players' brains were donated for concussion research
after their deaths. Kuntz died in February 2011 at age 79. He had
Parkinson's disease and a form of dementia called diffuse Lewy body
disease. Roberts was 67 when he died in October 2010. He had
dementia and lung cancer.
The four brains are the first to be donated to the Canadian
Sports Concussion Project at the Krembil Neuroscience Center at
Toronto Western Hospital. The project's goal is to improve
understanding of how concussions affect the brain.
"There are still so many unanswered questions surrounding concussion and the long-term consequences of repeated head injuries," Dr. Charles Tator, one of the project organizers, said in a University Health Network news release.
"We are trying to determine why some athletes in contact sports develop CTE and others don't, as well as how many concussions lead to the onset of this degenerative brain disease. Also, we need to develop tests to detect this condition at an early stage and to discover treatments," he added.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons has more about