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Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy announces new findings
Date:1/27/2009

(TAMPA, FLA) Leading medical experts at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) reported today that nine-year NFL veteran, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Tom McHale was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by head trauma, when he died in 2008 at the age of 45. In addition, the CSTE has discovered early evidence of CTE in the youngest case to date, a recently deceased 18-year-old boy who suffered multiple concussions in high school football.

McHale, a Cornell University graduate, former restaurateur, husband and father of three boys, is the sixth former NFL player to be diagnosed post-mortem with CTE since 2002. CTE, a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by repetitive trauma to the brain, is characterized by the build-up of a toxic protein called tau in the form of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and neuropil threads (NTs) throughout the brain. The abnormal protein initially impairs the normal functioning of the brain and eventually kills brain cells. Early on, CTE sufferers may display clinical symptoms such as memory impairment, emotional instability, erratic behavior, depression and problems with impulse control. However, CTE eventually progresses to full-blown dementia. McHale died due to a drug overdose after a multi-year battle with addiction. Expert consensus is that drug abuse of any kind would never cause the neuropathological findings of CTE seen in McHale.

The other former NFL players diagnosed with CTE are former Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Webster, Terry Long and Justin Strzelczyk, along with Andre Waters and John Grimsley. Waters and Long committed suicide. Grimsley, an avid and experienced gunsman, died in 2008 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound that the medical examiner ruled as accidental. All six NFL CTE sufferers died by the age of 50. Damien Nash, who died in 2007 at the age of 24, is the only
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Contact: Gina DiGravio
gina.digravio@bmc.org
617-638-8491
Boston University
Source:Eurekalert

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