CTE cases in soccer players raise concerns about heading the ball – NECN | Pro IQRA News

CTE cases in soccer players raise concerns about heading the ball – NECN

 | Pro IQRA News

Pro IQRA News Updates.

England’s football star Jimmy Fryatt is known for his ability to head the ball, and evidence of his prowess may lie in the damage to his brain.

Still fit in his late 70s, Fryatt played tennis but couldn’t score goals or remember which side of the net he was supposed to be on. He lived in Las Vegas for nearly 50 years but started getting lost while riding his bike through the neighborhood.

“I had to put a tracker on him,” his wife, Valerie, said this week. I would call him and tell him: stop. I’m coming to take you. “

A North American Football League champion who played 18 years in Britain, Fryatt is one of four former professional footballers diagnosed with CTE. The Concussion Legacy Foundation announced Tuesday that Oregon State head coach Jimmy Conway, Scottish and Seattle quarterback Jimmy Gabriel, and NCAA champion Franny Pantuscu have all been found to have a degenerative brain disease associated with concussions in athletes and veterans. and others who had repeated head trauma.

They are the first diagnosis among those who played in the NASL, a precursor to MLS as the top professional soccer league in the United States that attracted attention with high-profile signings—including Pelé—before folding in 1985.

Valerie Friatt said her husband had several concussions, but CTE researchers believe the disease could also have been caused by repeated sub-concussive blows to the head.

In soccer, this means hitting the ball with the head.

“Jamie was a prolific header of the ball. He was very good at it,” said Valerie Fryatt. “A lot of players from that era said he was the best header they had ever seen.”

The new diagnoses come as soccer officials gather in Chicago for the Head Injury Summit, a conference co-hosted by US Soccer and the US men’s and women’s professional leagues that promises “two days of presentations and panel discussions led by medical professionals, stakeholders and researchers.” “

But CTE researchers and families of sufferers say the agenda, guest list — and even the name — belies the desire to show the appearance of just facing brain injury, part of a trend among sports leagues to downplay the long-term effects of concussions and delay measures that can block it.

Ann Mackey, director of Boston University’s CTE Center-Brain Bank, which led research into the disease, which can cause memory loss, violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive difficulties, said.

“I’m sorry. I have a strained view about these peaks,” she said. I think it’s very much a PR stunt production to get people to believe they’re taking the injury and condition seriously. But they are so superficial in acting… that the outcome is inevitable.”

A NFL spokesperson, who is on the list of media contacts for the summit statement, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Major League Soccer spokeswoman sent out an agenda, which lists panels run by, among others, scientists, soccer officials and unnamed current and former players.

But no researchers from the BU CTE Center were invited to speak at the summit, even though Mackey and Robert Cantu are two of the most published, most prolific — and most outspoken — researchers in the field. (USA President Cindy Barlow Conn is among those who have pledged research on their own brains.)

“What happens to these large sports groups is that they often invite a roster full of people who minimize the long-term effects,” McKee said. And they came out saying: Here, we have a summit. We looked at the evidence. It’s not very strong, and scientists are reluctant. And so it’s kind of a matter of fact that they don’t have to do anything about it.”

Even the title was problematic for Concussion Legacy co-founder Chris Nowinski, a former Harvard football player turned professional wrestler turned Ph.D. Who was a pioneer in educating professional and amateur athletes about the dangers of concussions.

“Head injury is what you say you do when you don’t take it seriously,” Nowinski said. “To call it a ‘head injury’ when you’re actually talking about a ‘brain injury’ is a tactic the NFL used to use.”

Boston University researchers have diagnosed more than 100 soccer players with CTE. It has also been found in boxers, rugby players, professional wrestlers, and members of the military. Cases among soccer players — at least in the United States — used to be less common, but researchers expect the numbers to increase now that those who started playing the growing sport as children have reached old age.

Last year, Scott Vermillion was announced as the first former MLS player to be diagnosed with CTE. His father, David Vermillion, said he would have made attending the Summit his “number one priority” if he had been invited.

Instead, he is going on a family vacation.

“There will be no people who have dealt with it directly,” Vermillion said. “People like that have all this knowledge, which could have input in trying to make things safer for athletes, and they just wouldn’t be there.”

Nowinski said he offered to connect summit organizers with the families of those who died of CTE but remained in the shadows.

“It’s not good for business, I guess,” said Bruce Murray, a former member of the US National Team who has publicly disclosed his cognitive difficulties.

“They need to hear the ugly side of her, too. I had an ugly side, and Scott Vermillion died very ugly,” Murray said. “It was so normal and then it turned upside down. I don’t know if I would ever go upside down again. There is no doubt that something is going on.”

CTE can only be diagnosed postmortem. Vermillion, Fryatt, and Conway died in 2020. 10 years before his death, Conway revealed that he had dementia. Gabriel’s family reported cognitive difficulties and depression during the last 10 years of his life before his death in 2021. Pantuscu also died in 2021.

All four were in the most severe stages of the disease, McKee said.

Families of CTE victims are often the best source of information about how to recognize brain injuries, Mackey said, which can take years to develop and cause problematic behavior such as alcohol abuse or violent mood swings that can devastate families uneducated for the underlying cause.

“These are human beings,” Mackey said. “These are the people who played the game, who made the owners rich, which caused the fans to have all the fun, and who are really responsible for the popularity of football today.” They get into trouble, when they start to develop problematic behaviors, when their families start to suffer, when they start to suffer, no one really cares, including these Peaks.”