Medical Minute 11-18:

By: Andrew McIntosh
By: Andrew McIntosh

From high school to Harvard to the NFL, Isaiah Kaczyvenski's life was football. Now, the former linebacker who still suffers the affects of at least five concussions has committed to help a new team. One day, Isaiah's brain will be here, in the brain bank. This is where neuropathologist Doctor Ann McKee examines the donated brains of deceased athletes
Looking for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.

It's believed to be caused by repeat concussions or other brain trauma. These slides show the damage. On the left, a normal 65 year old's brain. On the right, deceased 45 year old NFL linebacker John Grimsley's brain.

"You'd compare it to some older person say 70s and 80s with severe end stage dementia," said Ann McKee, M.D., Professor of Neurology & Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Director, Neuropathology Core.

"14 of the first 15 NFL players that we looked at for this disease had it," said Chris Nowinski, Co-Director, Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy's Chris Nowinski recruits athletes to donate their brains. The former professional wrestler is also Isaiah's college teammate.

"This is the only type of dementia that exists that's preventable."

CTE has been spotted in deceased college and high school athletes. Nowinski says to help prevent it, we need to limit what young athletes do on the field.

"And people are going to fight like heck to say should a 6 year old be heading a soccer ball. "

Isaiah knows he's at risk for CTE and that when his brain gets here, it could prevent the next generation from developing it.


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