Today, the NY Times is running an editorial by Dr. Bennet Omalu called Don’t Let Kids Play Football. Omalu was the first to publish research on CTE in football players.
If a child who plays football is subjected to advanced radiological and neurocognitive studies during the season and several months after the season, there can be evidence of brain damage at the cellular level of brain functioning, even if there were no documented concussions or reported symptoms. If that child continues to play over many seasons, these cellular injuries accumulate to cause irreversible brain damage, which we know now by the name Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a disease that I first diagnosed in 2002.
Depending on the severity of the condition, the child now has a risk of manifesting symptoms of C.T.E. like major depression, memory loss, suicidal thought and actions, loss of intelligence as well as dementia later in life. C.T.E. has also been linked to drug and alcohol abuse as the child enters his 20s, 30s and 40s.
The story of Omalu, his research, and its suppression by the NFL is the subject of Concussion, a movie starring Will Smith that comes out on Christmas Day, as well as a book version written by Jeanne Marie Laskas.
Update: Dr. James Hamblin shares the findings of a new paper on how repeated head trauma can affect the brains of kids as young as 8.
In the journal Radiology today, an imaging study shows that players ages 8 to 13 who have had no concussion symptoms still show changes associated with traumatic brain injury.
Christopher Whitlow, chief of neuroradiology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, wanted to see how head impact affects developing brains. His team studied male football players between ages 8 and 13 over the course of a season, recording “head impact data” using a Head Impact Telemetry System to measure force, which was correlated with video of games and practices.
Concussion, starring Will Smith, is about Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered the link between football and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) and will be out in December.
The movie is based on the 2009 GQ article, Game Brain.
Let’s say you run a multibillion-dollar football league. And let’s say the scientific community — starting with one young pathologist in Pittsburgh and growing into a chorus of neuroscientists across the country — comes to you and says concussions are making your players crazy, crazy enough to kill themselves, and here, in these slices of brain tissue, is the proof. Do you join these scientists and try to solve the problem, or do you use your power to discredit them?
Saw someone on Twitter saying that maybe this will be football’s The Insider. Let’s hope it moves the needle.
Update: From the NY Times, Sony Altered ‘Concussion’ Film to Prevent N.F.L. Protests, Emails Show.
In dozens of studio emails unearthed by hackers, Sony executives; the director, Peter Landesman; and representatives of Mr. Smith discussed how to avoid antagonizing the N.F.L. by altering the script and marketing the film more as a whistle-blower story, rather than a condemnation of football or the league.
“Will is not anti football (nor is the movie) and isn’t planning to be a spokesman for what football should be or shouldn’t be but rather is an actor taking on an exciting challenge,” Dwight Caines, the president of domestic marketing at Sony Pictures, wrote in an email on Aug. 6, 2014, to three top studio executives about how to position the movie. “We’ll develop messaging with the help of N.F.L. consultant to ensure that we are telling a dramatic story and not kicking the hornet’s nest.”
God ruined I Am Legend with the most literal deus ex machina I’ve ever seen in a movie. The alternate ending makes a whole lot more sense. Then again, I would have been satisfied with three straight hours of how Neville spends his time in Manhattan wilderness, alone, procuring supplies, checking buildings off of his scavenging list, visiting the MoMA to get new art for his walls, collecting iPods for “new” music, etc. Is it every New Yorker’s fantasy to have all of Manhattan to himself for a day?
The second trailer for Hancock, the Will-Smith-as-apathetic-superhero movie due out this summer, is up on Apple Trailers. I believe this is the same one I linked to on YouTube a month ago, but watch it again anyway. I am hoping against hope that this one isn’t going to be as stupid as I think and instead will be as awesome as I hope.
I’ve got Will Smith action hero fatigue, but HOLY CRAP does Hancock look awesome. I am into apathetic superheroes. There’s a second trailer available on YouTube…and its quality is surprisingly good. (You can tell I don’t make it out to the movies a lot these days…the first trailer has been out since December.)
Is George Clooney the last movie star?
The only one we have. Wow. There’s one teensy-weensy problem, though, that nobody seems to have noticed. One tiny little thing missing from the George Clooney is the World’s Biggest Movie Star storyline…nobody watches his movies.
On the other hand, Will Smith gets Oscar noms and gets people into the theater.