Ever forget where you put your car keys? That’s normal. Forgetting what car keys are…not normal. What is the difference between normal aging and memory loss? In my presentation called Forget Less; Remember More, I help you arm yourself with the facts about your brain and reduce your worries. We explore how the human brain works and what it needs to stay healthy. I introduce exercises fun, simple activities you do on a regular basis to help build a stronger brain.
Rather than worrying about cognitive decline as we age, I teach the facts about aging and memory loss, about normal function vs. disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia and is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Every 68 seconds an American develops Alzheimer’s disease. That will increase to every 33 seconds by 2050. And yet research lags behind. Why? Because we remain a youth-centric nation and many of the diseases with dementia affect older adults.
Enter brain injuries among professional football players. Dak Gustal reports on how the money in the world of football may help move brain research ahead.
By Dak Gustal
The attention being paid to brain injuries in the NFL is coming to a head. Things are at the stage now where there is a lot of light shining on what happens to people with brain injuries. The NFL has a lot of money. This is really good news for brain study in general.
Here’s what’s happening: there is an injury called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) that has been found in several ex football players’ brains. These ex players exhibited disorientation, memory loss, speech problems and depression among many other symptoms associated with brain injury diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. But these football players did not have any of these diseases; the common denominator in their stories is that they played the most violent sport popular in America.
It appears that football causes brain injuries, and not just in the case of singular blows resulting in concussion, but the usual crashing together that happens on every play as well.
Now it’s one thing for us random folks with regular amounts of money to fall victim to genetic predispositions. We go to the doctors and among all the things that they also do that seems so much more urgent, they see us. They recommend things and we try to follow them, but without the BIG money, we’re not getting a whole lot more than what falls through the cracks, after all, we’re out on the edge of life where stuff happens to us all the time. More urgent is saving youth and supporting strength. The beginning and prime of life is where all the action is. It’s tragic when we begin to fail in our prime, but failing in our old age is rather expected. Not that we want it, but we’re at the whim of medical sciences interest and ability.
Not the NFL. One of theirs gets hurt and there’s big money available. BIG money. So now some of the leagues most cherished players are showing up with symptoms of CTE. No one likes that. Is this what happens to all players? How long has the NFL known this is happening?
The good news, if there is good news talking about brain injury, is that there is about to be a whole lot more money and interest in looking at brains and what makes them healthy and what makes them ill. We are going to learn a whole lot more about brains because of this, and this is going to help all of us.
Dak Gustal is a freelance writer and poet living in Randoph, VT. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org