One of the last requests former NFL player Dave Duerson made before taking his own life was that his brain by studied to help other players suffering from the same depression, memory loss and thoughts of suicide that plagued his life. Duerson took his own life after dealing with years of depression. Duerson wanted researchers to determine if he suffered from chronictraumatic encephalopathy. This disease, which may be caused by concussions, is considered a degenerative disease, which means that it only gets worse over time.
In a recent study, in Long Island and Manhattan, of over 1,000 NFL players, 60 to 70 percent have received at least one concussion during their career. Many former players complain of memory loss, depression and suicidal thoughts similar to Duerson. Some players have committed suicide while others live with painful neurological complications for the rest of their lives. In addition to the number of NFL players who have suffered painful injuries and long-term illnesses resulting from repeated concussions, it has been estimated that 50 high school football players have died or suffered permanent injuries over the past 10 years.
Dr. Daniel Amen, a respected neurologist and host of his own PBS show, says that football players will have to learn how to play the game without causing injuries to the heads of other players. This may mean learning new ways to tackle players. Dr. Amen states that better protective equipment may not fully protect players from concussions and other spinal injuries. He went on to say that while change is never easy, players will have to develop new ways of playing the game. Permanent change occurs when the brain creates new neural pathways. Once these new pathways are created, new habits may be learned.