--Original published at Rachel's Blog
CTE can be defined as chronic traumatic encephalopathy which is a disease that affects the nervous system. Previously, Alzheimer’s disease was linked to professional football players and military veterans due to bombs and explosions, but an earlier study showed that constant hits to the head can result in this disease, even in the absence of a concussion. The most serious cases of people who have this disease is usually people who played contact sports and had repeated head injuries while playing.
To conduct this study, the brains of four deceased athletes who were 17 or 18 years old were analyzed. The commonality between the four athletes is that they all played football, and they all passed away between the time frame of one day to four months of having a head injury related to the sport. After all four brains were analyzed, there was visible changes to the brain that included leaking blood vessels and abnormal buildups of the protein tau, which can be linked to CTE disease. These four brains were compared to four other brains of athletes the same age who have not had any head injuries before passing away, and when analyzed, there was no change to their brain. Their findings from looking at the brains under a microscope was that once they experienced a head injury, it caused the brain to change.
Even without a concussion, if someone has a head injury, this can still have an effect on the brain in the way it changes. The problem is not the concussion, it is the side effects from the concussion that are making it questionable how it affects the brain. They are currently trying to find a way to detect earlier in life if someone has the disease so that they could be treated. They are also trying to figure out how genetics and exposure to head trauma play a role in determining this disease.
This same experiment was performed on mice in that they let mice experience a similar trauma that humans would experience when playing football. It was called the “blast model” and this model was to simulate a head trauma. The results of this showed that the outcome was very similar to the human brain in that the mouse brain changed similarly to how the human brain changed after experiencing a head injury, and it helps to determine if this is what triggers the CTE disease. Also, researchers found that the only way to determine if someone has the disease would be from an autopsy after they have passed away. Also, this disease can affect young athletes and can progress for the rest of that individuals life time.
Reflection: Overall, summarizing the research article was a bit challenging because there was a great amount of important information given in the article. A lot of the information from the scholarly article was not used because the original document was very large, and filled with the many experiments performed and the results. I decided to just use the main tests that were presented in the news article, but I also made sure to incorporate more in depth results from the scholarly article. For this article, it was important to just pay attention to the key details because most of the article was hard to understand, and I felt that maybe the average reader would not fully understand the findings since they were stated in scientific terminology. There was also a lot of research that supported the findings, especially research that related to the brain, and there was multiple statistical results that were also not used because they were hard to understand. Another thing that I tried to include in my summary was the answer to the five critical questions when analyzing research. I did this because when writing the summary for the scholarly article and the news article, it was important to try to see if these five questions were answered. It was important to try to include these five answers to the questions in the summary because these answers are essential when analyzing the research.
My perspective of journalists has changed in that I now see how much work is required for a news article. It takes a great deal of knowledge for the author of the article to try to make sense of the journal article, and to analyze it and put it words that the average reader would understand. Also, I realized another challenge that these authors may face is interpreting the article and being able to accurately portray the findings, without changing the meaning of the results. When reading the scholarly article, it was noted that a few times there were differences in results between that article and the news article.
Kounang, Nadia. “Repeated Hits, Not Concussions, Linked to CTE.” CNN, Cable News
Network, 18 Jan. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/01/18/health/cte-concussion-repeated-hits-study/index.html.
Tagge, et al. “Concussion, Microvascular Injury, and Early Tauopathy in Young Athletes after
Impact Head Injury and an Impact Concussion Mouse Model | Brain | Oxford Academic.”OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 18 Jan. 2018, academic.oup.com/brain/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/brain/awx350/4815697.