CTE Awareness day, January 30
On the Good Men Project’s Disposability of Men Social Interest Group’s convocast, we talk about strategies to save the lives and brains of our children. While contact sports are attractive in many ways, they damage our children’s brains. There is no absolute recovery from injuries suffered from repetitive hits, chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy (CTE), or repetitive concussions, traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, help and strategies to minimize symptoms are available once the problem is acknowledged and diagnosed.
Parents and coaches know that teenagers can be an unpredictable lot. Hormonal changes plus growth spurts and the metamorphosis from child to adult can tax not only the teenager but the parents. A happy-go-lucky-child can become moody and distant. It is hard to distinguish normal behavior from depression:
- Sex, alcohol, and drugs
- Mood Swings
- Lying or hiding facts
- Defying rules and arguing
Does your child/teenager also play a contact sport: football, ice or field hockey, soccer, wrestling, boxing, basketball, diving, lacrosse, rodeo, ski jumping, water polo, and/or team handball. If the answer is yes, are they exhibiting “normal” behaviors only worse? Has your bright student slacked off school work?
“Dumb Jock” may be Brain Injured
There is the persistent image of the “dumb jock” taking all the easy courses to maintain their eligibility for a team. It may be that your jock is not dumb but his injured brain can’t function and he is playing anyway. It may be time to consider a change. Their brain may be suffering from chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of repetitive hits or not completely recovered from one or more concussive hits. If you suspect there is a problem, check with teachers. They’ll be aware if there are changes.
CTE Behavioral Symptoms
According to the Mayo Clinic, behaviors from chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy (CTE) may include:
- Difficulty with self-control
- Lack of awareness of abilities
- Risky behavior, Difficulty in social situations
- Verbal or physical outbursts
- Anger, Insomnia, Aggression
- Difficulty thinking (cognitive impairment)
- Impulsive behavior
- Depression or apathy
- Short-term memory loss
- Difficulty planning and carrying out tasks (executive function)
- Emotional instability
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior.
CTE Physical Symptoms
Problems involving senses may include: Persistent ringing in the ears, Difficulty recognizing objects, Impaired hand-eye coordination, Blind spots or double vision, A bitter taste, a bad smell or difficulty smelling, Skin tingling, pain or itching, and Trouble with balance or dizziness.
TBI-Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
If your child/teenager has suffered a concussion, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and not taken the time to fully recover, they may exhibit similar issues that extend to Problem-solving, Multitasking, Organization, Planning, Decision-making, Beginning or completing tasks, Trouble with turn taking or topic selection in conversations, Problems with changes in tone, pitch or emphasis to express emotions, attitudes or subtle differences in meaning, Difficulty understanding nonverbal signals, Trouble reading cues from listeners,Trouble starting or stopping conversations, and Inability to use the muscles needed to form words (dysarthria).
Help is Available
There are therapies and support for those who are suffering from CTE or TBI. If it is your child/teenager that you suspect is suffering, your first step would be to see a neurologist or contact your state or local Brain Injury Association which will help you help your child.
A helpful guide is “13 Steps to Help Your Student Athlete with a Brain Injury.”
We want to hear about your experience: To help others, if you or your child has been diagnosed with CTE or TBI, how did you realize there was a problem? What did you do?
Did your son or daughter exhibit behaviors that you thought were normal only to find out there was a problem? In time to help? That a tough question. The truth is not enough parents or students pay enough attention to the serious outcome of repetitive hits to the extent they have no idea what CTE is. The result is a normalizing of the behaviors and shock when their child is beyond help.
The outcome of ignoring the injury or the behaviors or calling it “normal” can be tragic. If this has happened to you, would you share your story in the hope of preventing such a sad and terrible outcome for another family?
When you’re ready to submit, click the red box, below.
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