Report: Scientists Link ALS, Athlete Head Injuries

NEW YORK (AP) Scientists have found evidence connecting head injuries in athletes to Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to a report to air on HBO’s “Real Sports” on Tuesday night.

Dr. Ann McKee said in an interview with the television magazine show that she found toxic proteins in the spinal cords of three athletes who had suffered head injuries and then later died of Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS. Those same proteins have been found in the brains of athletes with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease linked to head injuries that causes cognitive decline, abnormal behavior and dementia.

The findings are to be published in the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology.

McKee, a neurology professor at Boston University who has studied CTE in athletes, noticed that an unusually high number of football players seemed to be affected by ALS. The disease attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, and destroys the ability to move and speak.

She was able to study the brains and spinal cords of ex-Minnesota Vikings linebacker Wally Hilgenberg, former Southern California linebacker Eric Scoggins, and a boxer whose family asked that his name be kept private.

She found the toxic proteins in the spines of all three. The proteins were not present in the spines of athletes with CTE who didn’t have Lou Gehrig’s disease. Nor had she seen them in non-athletes who died of ALS.

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  • James Christopher Oden

    Its too misleading how the prime of an athletes career versus what happens to them down the road reallly happens.

    Banning boxing, I think was a good, logical action, and it was based on illnesses and injuries its athletes suffered. Hockey, football, rugby, you ought to take better note of this.

  • James christopher Oden

    Boxing was the first sport they linked illness to athlete’s and we see how much just one venue can bring them in.

  • James Christopher Oden

    Injuries cost versus the contract amounts are a gamble in themselves. Life expectancy statistics can be thrown out the window especially if head injuries are involved.

    There’s no way coaches and promoters, or owners, even of teams will admit to taking money and running, can say the contracts are worth more than the price it costs professional athletes.

  • James Christopher Oden

    Boxing, another contact sport, was banned their under a study by their public health care program.

    Coaches, promoters, owners, and the associated, made their money, and ahtletes were left out in the cold, with illnesses and injuries, that were far more costly than winnings or earnings in a contract. Not uncommon, would be those same people wouldn’t pay for injuries or illnesses related to their careers or profession, even after winningn a title, or trophy.

  • JamesChristopher Oden

    This type event was discovered in Scandanavia where a sport of professional athletes had their profession banned, because it cost more in health care to take care of them, than profit of their venues.

  • James Christopher Oden

    Its not a new report. Illnesses and ailments in professional sports, are more costly than the big salary contracts they sign.

    Lie to me some more, and say boxing wasn’t banned because coaches, promoters, and owners were unable to pay the doctors for them, they knew could occur.

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