| by the Nexus Sports Team |  

Dr Andrew Bleacher

In 2012, Dr Andrew Bleacher, certified sports physician in California shared his thoughts on the inherit risks of playing football.

As we know, some believe that football is way too violent and should be abolished altogether. Others believe the benefits outweigh the so significantly that they will defend the sport tooth and nail. And then, there are those waning back and forth unsure where to settle their thoughts and feelings. Where does Dr Bleacher stand?

What he sees daily makes him ponder

As a sports physician, he sees it all – and on a regular basis: fractures, sprains, strains, overuse injuries, head injuries, concussions, trauma. Those are short term risks. Dementia, CTE, chronic headaches, depression, the list goes on and on. Is it worth it he asks.

According to him, football is a beautiful game. It is the No. 1 sport in America. It does help develop the physical strength, speed, technique and skill. However, it also provides a structure to develop other skills like “Learning about hard work, strategy, teamwork, social and trust building skills, these are all life lessons that provide our youngsters with tools to not only tackle their opponent, but to tackle life.” And let’s not leave the social benefits of “being the school’s football team”. All of this helps build confident young men.


His take

He is admittedly a fan of the game. From the strategy of the play calling and the various formations and athletism put on display, football creates a buzz.

While acknowledging the inherent risks, he makes a point on how – statistically speaking – life events have more chances of causing serious injuries than playing football.

Education and awareness is the way to go according to Dr Bleacher. Changes have come about in the culture and the way the game is being taught and played.

So? Despite all the good benefits that football brings, is Dr Bleacher willing to let his son play?



 Dr Peter Cummings

More recently, Dr Peter Cummings – a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist - shared his thoughts on the risks and rewards of playing football. He too has a young son, and his son plays football.

Despite his best efforts to conceal the sports existence, his son discovered football and so Dr Cummins had to tackle the issue head on.

What is CTE?

CTE stands for “chronic traumatic encephalopathy”. In other words it means damage to the brain caused by repetitive injury. More specifically, it speaks of a protein called ‘tau’ in the brain which has many functions, including stabilizing the structure of nerve cells. So when nerves are injured, some problems occur due to tau builds up.

Understanding the NFL players’ Clinicopathological evaluation of CTE

Dr Cummings shared his professional opinion on the recently release study where the report read that 99% of the 202 players examined had presence of CTE. It is 202 players out of tens of thousands of men who played football at one time in their life. This is an important distinction.

Unsatisfied with the results – or how they were being portrayed – he dug a little deeper and come up with some strong evidence that contradicts the narrative currently being shared.

It’s not entirely clear if CTE is unique to traumatic brain injury. CTE-like pathology has also been seen in the brains of people who’ve died of epilepsy, without any history of head trauma. He adds that there are also cases of opioid overdose deaths where the brains show signs of early aging, including tau accumulation. This could suggest other factors can make some people more prone to developing CTE than others.

As it stands, multiple researchers have found no significant relationship between playing football and increased risk of violence, suicide and dementia in the general football playing population. In fact, studies have shown a lower rate of death due to violence and suicide in NFL players as compared to the general population.


His take

Dr Cummings believes football is a sport in crisis, and some of the blame has to go towards the sensationalized media coverage which is causing a false impression of the strength and validity of the CTE science. The news is terrifying athletes at all levels as demonstrated by the story of former NHLer Todd Ewen who committed suicide convinced he had CTE when in fact he did not. The fear of CTE can affect on-field performance, as shown by his latest confidential discussion with a current NFL player who’s on-field performance improved after being convinced that CTE is not a factual consequence of playing the game.

It a known fact that concussions are not unique to football; they are seen in hockey, rugby, soccer, water polo and even synchronized swimming. Concussions are part of list of risks associated to playing a sport, at any level.

Education and awareness is the way to go.

See the good doctor's editorial here: https://sports.yahoo.com/im-brain-scientist-let-son-play-football-135727314.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=fb

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