Learn about the hidden, cumulative effects of tackle football on the brain, especially for children, and how you can minimize the risk.
Playing tackle football as a child can impact health and quality of life as an adult. Simply put, lifestyle impacts health. So, what do you do when your child brings home the permission form to play football when every year there are new studies documenting the negative long-term effects linking football and brain disease? This week’s show focus can help you answer this question and help you protect your child’s developing brain.
In this Episode:
- 00:00 – Our Sponsor: Tree of Life Memorials and Digital & Stone
- 00:20 – Intro
- 04:23 – Dignified Transfer: Honoring our Fallen Soldiers
- 05:53 – Super Bowl
- 07:09 – Recipe of the Week: Pig Candy
- 11:09 – Traumatic Brain Encephalitis
- 35:56 – Funeral Theater: “Concussion”
- 44:20 – Outro
Chronic Traumatic Encephalitis (CTE)
Marianne talked about CTE and why we need to know about it when the young people we care for want to play tackle football. CTE is a neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s. Repetitive sub-concussive hits to the head—like you commonly see in tackle football—appear to be the root of the disease.
In a recent paper cited by the CDC, youth tackle football athletes experienced a median of 378 head impacts per athlete during the season, 15 times more than those who participated in flag football.
We also talk about some of the hidden signs of brain trauma, especially for younger children. Things to watch for include personality changes, depression, trouble concentrating, and suicidal thoughts. Parents and coaches need to be aware to find treatment as soon as possible.
How is CTE diagnosed? CTE is diagnosed by cutting into the brain and looking at the brain cells under a microscope. This can only be done after a person has died. No brain imaging, blood or spinal fluid tests are available to make this diagnosis.
What is the best predictor of developing CTE? The force of blows to the head that football players experienced over their lives better predicted chronic traumatic encephalopathy than the number of concussions.
What does CTE do to the brain? Chronic traumatic encephalopathy results in tangles of a protein called tau to build up around the blood vessels in the brain. These altered tau structures collapse, causing microtubules to disintegrate and the cells to die. This is different from what is typically seen in brains affected by aging, Alzheimer’s, or any other brain disease.
What are the symptoms of a concussion? The symptoms of concussions are nausea or vomiting, neck pain, grogginess, personality change, and difficulty concentrating.
How many hours a week should a child play football? It is recommended that they not play more hours than their years in age. For example, a 9-year-old should not be practicing and playing football more than nine hours a week.
How long should I wait until I allow my child to play tackle football? The current thinking is that if you are going to allow your child to play tackle football, to at least wait until they are in 7th grade. The brain is not fully developed until the child is in their mid-twenties, so damage at a young age could have serious consequences.
League of Denial
We have a bit of theater from the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith. It is based on the real story of Bennet Omalu.
League of Denial is a PBS documentary on the NFL’s Concussion crisis. You can see the trailer below, and watch it here.
Honoring Fallen Soldiers
Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, Specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders and Specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett were killed at a remote U.S. outpost in Jordan in what the Pentagon said was a drone attack by an Iranian-backed militia. This week the nation watched the dignified transfer of their caskets from the aircraft to an awaiting transport vehicle, a solemn duty that ensures dignity, honor and respect.
In addition to family members the President and Mrs. Biden, Defense Secretary, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs were witnesses to the transfer. May these service members rest in peace as we offer a moment of silence to honor their sacrifice.
Recipe: Celebrating the Super Bowl
Super Bowl Sunday has become one of the biggest eating days of the year in the United States. Americans consume millions of chicken wings, pizzas, and gallons of beer on this day. So, if your next funeral lunch is for someone who loved the game, why not take Super Bowl fare? Our recipe this week is Pig Candy. It is made with pork belly or thick cut bacon seasoned and caramelized to perfect goodness! Sound good? Pick up the recipe and see a video with more ideas at Today.
- The Dignified Transfer
- With Dignity & Honor: How Fallen Service Members’ Personal Effects Are Returned to Family
- Air Force Mortuary Affairs
- Mez J, Daneshvar DH, Kiernan PT, et al. Clinicopathological Evaluation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Players of American Football. JAMA. 2017;318(4):360–370. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.8334
- Aaron Hernandez suffered from most severe CTE ever found in a person his age
- Zachary Y. Kerr, Avinash Chandran, Aliza K. Nedimyer, Alan Arakkal, Lauren A. Pierpoint, Scott L. Zuckerman; Concussion Incidence and Trends in 20 High School Sports. Pediatrics November 2019; 144 (5): e20192180. doi:10.1542/peds.2019-2180
- Football and the Brain: Lifestyle Impacts Health
- How football raises the risk for chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
- Daneshvar, D.H., Nair, E.S., Baucom, Z.H. et al. Leveraging football accelerometer data to quantify associations between repetitive head impacts and chronic traumatic encephalopathy in males. Nat Commun 14, 3470 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-39183-0
- In Autopsy Study, Over 90% of Former NFL Players Showed Signs of Brain Disease CTE. 2023.
- Evolution of the game: The past decades have seen multiple changes to make NFL action more compelling (sportsbusinessjournal.com)
- Exactly How Dangerous Is Football? | The New Yorker
- Iverson, G. L., & Terry, D. P. (2022). High School Football and Risk for Depression and Suicidality in Adulthood: Findings From a National Longitudinal Study. Frontiers in neurology, 12, 812604. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2021.812604
- High School Football and Risk for Depression and Suicidality in Adulthood: Findings From a National Longitudinal Study.
- American football season is getting hotter. Young players are dying
- Jacob J. M. Kay, Colt A. Coffman, Adam Harrison, Abbas S. Tavakoli, Toni M. Torres-McGehee, Steven P. Broglio, Robert Davis Moore; Concussion Exposure and Suicidal Ideation, Planning, and Attempts Among US High School Students. J Athl Train 1 September 2023; 58 (9): 751–758. doi: https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-0117.22
- CDC: Comparing Head Impacts in Youth Tackle and Flag Football
- Bennet Omalu, Concussions, and the NFL: How One Doctor Changed Football Forever | GQ
- LEAGUE OF DENIAL: THE NFL’S CONCUSSION CRISIS (PBS)
- LEAGUE OF DENIAL (transcript)
- League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth. (2013). Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru.
- Bachynski, K. (2019). No Game for Boys to Play. The History of Youth Football and the Origins of a Public Health Crisis. The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN: 978-1-4696-5370-9.
- A PARENT’S GUIDE TO SAFE FOOTBALL PLAY FOR KIDS (2023). Health Care Home Healthfeed,10.
This episode was sponsored by The Tree of Life Memorials and Digital & Stone – a new platform to create digital memorials, environmental legacies and fine art monuments. Share the Stories, preserve the memories, conserve the land, connect the Souls…. because Love never dies. Find out more at https://www.digitalandstone.com/
From Everyone Dies:
Everyone Dies: and yes, it is normal!
Everyone Dies (and yes, it is normal) is a story about a young boy named Jax who finds something special on the beach where he and his grandpa Pops are enjoying a wonderful day. Pops helps Jax understand that death is a normal part of life. This book provides an age appropriate, non-scary, comfortable way to introduce the important topic of mortality to a preschool child. Its simple explanation will last a lifetime. Autographed copies for sale at: www.everyonediesthebook.com. Also available at Amazon
We offer a way to memorialize your loved one or treasured pet with a piece of handmade jewelry. When people comment on it and the wearer can say for example “I received this when my mother died” which opens the conversation about this loss. All our jewelry is made with semi-precious stones and beads, vintage beads, and pearls. You can choose between earrings or bracelets and the color family. Learn More
Make a Tax-Deductible Donation Here:
Subscribe & Hit That Bell So You Don’t Miss a Podcast!
You’ll also be eligible for a monthly drawing!