In this week, just days prior to the Super Bowl, the results of Ken Stabler’s autopsy indicated that he had Stage 3 CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Stabler died from cancer, but requested that his brain be studied at the Boston University Center where much of the research on CTE is taking place. The former Oakland Raider and recipient of the MVP award had reported problems with memory and other cognitive tasks increasing over recent years. The autopsy found atrophy in Stabler’s brain and damage in areas which would affect memory and information processing. Additionally, the curtain-like membrane separating the hemispheres was torn. Clearly, the effects of multiple concussions were seen.
These finding again support the connection between multiple concussions and changes to the brain later in life causing dementia. As much as we enjoy the excitement of the Super Bowl, the connection between sports concussions and CTE is creeping into greater public awareness. How many retired NFL players will be found to have CTE? And, what is the NFL really doing?