The League

Les Carpenter
Staff Writer

Les Carpenter

Yahoo! Sports reporter and former NFL writer for The Washington Post.

CTE is a real risk for football players


Late this summer in a room at the Boston University School of Medicine, Ann McKee pulled the brain of a Hall of Fame football player named Lou Creekmur from the box in which it had arrived and nearly gasped.
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As a neuropathologist and the co-director of BU's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, she has spent more than two decades examining the brains of people who had suffered from dementia, searching for the telltale signs of what might have actually caused the condition. But from the moment she took Creekmur's brain into her hands, placing it on the table, it was obvious as to what had tormented him in the final years of his life. The brain itself had shrunk. There was a widening of the ventricles where fluids had filled tiny cisterns in an effort to replace the lost mass. And structures important to things like language and learning were shriveled.

When the slides of his brain matter were prepared for her to study, she didn't even need to place them under a microscope: the deposits of tau, a protein found in the central nervous system, signifying chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) or "punch-drunk syndrome" were so large all she had to do was lay the slide on a light table to make a diagnosis.

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By Les Carpenter  |  October 28, 2009; 12:02 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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