CTE To Be Taken On By Women

CTE is a controversial brain injury that has been researched by the leading scholars at Boston University. Since its manifestation, they have dissected the injury and have given results to families of diseased athletes (mostly football players) indicating a possible linkage as to why their loved ones may have started to act strange or have been acting irrationally as opposed to their usual character before their death. There have been many instances of football players taking their own lives with drugs or dying young because of the pressure of CTE in the brain.

Now, with this injury in the spotlight, women are stepping forward to donate their brains to science in an effort to expand the testing for both genders and in other sports. Specifically, Brandi Chastain, now 47, a mother and coach, who remains best known for scoring the winning shootout goal in the 1999 World Cup final against China and for also shredding her jersey on the field for her celebration, is donating her brain in hopes that this move will do more for soccer. While CTE has been found in football players and boxing, it has also been found in several male soccer players and researchers believe that heading the ball is a primary offender.

Moreover, while no female athletes have been found to have had CTE, it has been found in the brains of women with histories of head trauma—yet this sample has been too small. In essence, the researchers at Boston University have examined 307 brains, most of which belonged to athletes and only seven of them were women’s. However, with the growing popularity of soccer among young girls who are inspired by most recent United States women’s national team, researchers are eager to learn a lot more [1].

What is CTE?

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic sub-concussive hits to the head. This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgement, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia or an array of diseases aforementioned [2].

A recent article published on pbs.org revealed that a total of 87 out of 91 former NFL players have tested positive for the brain disease at the center of the debate over concussions in football, according to new figures from the largest brain bank focuses on the study of traumatic head injury.

Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University have now identified CTE in 96% of NFL players that they’ve examined and in 79% of all football players. In total the lab had found CTE in the brain tissue in 131 out of 165 individuals who, before their deaths, played football either professionally, semi-professionally, in college or in high school.

These figures come with several important caveats, as testing for the disease can be an imperfect process. Brain scans have been used to identify signs of CTE in living players, but the disease can only be definitively identified posthumously. As such, many of the players who have donated their brains for testing suspected that they had the disease while still alive, leaving researchers with a skewed population to work with.

Even with those forewarnings, the latest numbers are “remarkably consistent” with past research from the center suggesting a link between football and long-term brain disease, said Dr. Ann McKee, the facility’s director and chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System. “People think that we’re blowing this out of proportion, that this is a very rare disease and that we’re sensationalizing it,” said McKee, who runs the lab as part of a collaboration between the VA and BU. “My response is that where I sit, this is a very real disease. We have had no problem identifying it in hundreds of players.”[3]

With all this information regarding mostly male athletes of contact sports, the addition of women’s testing for CTE can add a lot more certainty to these numbers about not only for causation but also correlation.

Living with CTE or TBI

Hundreds of players have endured a brain injury that can change their lives forever and may lead to emotional issues. A brain injury can change the way people feel or express emotions. An individual with TBI can have several types of emotional problems.

Mood swings and emotional liability are often caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls emotions and behavior. Often there is no specific event that triggers a sudden emotional response. This may be confusing for family members who may think they accidentally did something that upset the injured person. Additionally, in some cases the brain injury can cause sudden episodes of crying or laughing. These emotional expressions or outbursts may not have any relationship to the way the persons feels (in other words, they may cry without feeling sad or laugh without feeling happy). In some cases the emotional response may not match the situation (such as laughing at a sad story). Usually the person cannot control these expressions of emotion.

Anxiety, depression and an assortment of other emotional disorders have been linked to TBIs and concussions. While the physical symptoms that one had when they suffer from a TBI can be life changing, the side effects that are associated with emotions can affect your mood, your job, your love life and even your familial relationships. This only causes added stress to further perpetuate one’s emotions [4].

Dolman Law Group

If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered a sports injury or related TBI injury due to someone’s negligence, we invite you to contact Dolman Law Group at (727) 853-6275 for a consultation with a member of our team. We are committed to representing individuals who have suffered personal injury due to the negligence of others.

Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 853-6275



[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/04/sports/soccer/brandi-chastain-to-donate-her-brain-for-cte-research.html
[2] http://www.bu.edu/cte/about/what-is-cte/
[3] http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sports/concussion-watch/new-87-deceased-nfl-players-test-positive-for-brain-disease/
[4] http://www.brainline.org/content/2010/03/emotional-problems-after-traumatic-brain-injury_pageall.html