During his remarkable 20-year NFL career, Brett Favre threw 552 touchdown passes and started 321 consecutive games. Few can boast of having come even close to the number of his accomplishments in professional football. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether or not or to what extent he will remember them, Favre admitted on Thursday, October 24, 2013(Davis, 2013).
When asked about his experience with concussions during a radio interview with Sports Talk 570 in Washington, he admitted that he experienced significant gaps in long-term memory, even when the memory in question held (or ought to have held) particular emotional significance. "I don't remember my daughter playing soccer, playing youth soccer, one summer", he admitted(Davis, 2013).
"I don't remember that. I got a pretty good memory, and I have a tendency like we all do to say, 'Where are my glasses?' and they're on your head", he said, admitting an interesting asymmetry between his relatively decent short-term memory, as opposed to serious gaps in his long-term memory(Davis, 2013).
This was pretty shocking to me that I couldn't remember my daughter playing youth soccer, just one summer, I think. I remember her playing basketball, I remember her playing volleyball, so I kind of think maybe she only played a game or two. I think she played eight. So that's a little bit scary to me...For the first time in 44 years, that put a little fear in me(Davis, 2013).
Although well-known for his ability to persist in the face of numerous injuries, the consequences and effects of injuries like concussions oftentimes don't manifest themselves until many years later. "I think after 20 years, God only knows the toll," he admitted(Davis, 2013).
According to the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), the consequences of concussions may persist for decades(Nordqvist, 2013). Even after the most obvious, immediate symptoms of the concussion have ceased, the brain does not return to normal, and more subtle, though still serious, symptoms, can continue to affect the victim decades after the event(Nordqvist, 2013).
A recent breakthrough in the detection of brain pathology related with these injuries was developed by researchers from UCLA, who were successfully able to identify abnormal tau proteins in retired NFL players using a brain-imaging tool - a protein also associated with Alzheimer's(Nordqvist, 2013).
Indeed, former NFL players have sued the organization en masse for failing to properly protect them from permanent brain damage:
Concussions result from "An injury of a soft structure, as the brain, resulting from a blow or violent shaking"(Nordqvist, 2013). The most obvious symptoms of a concussion consist of "cognitive, physical and emotional symptoms, such as confusion, vomiting, headache, nausea, depression, disturbed sleep, moodiness, and amnesia"(Nordqvist, 2013).
Even many years after these symptoms have subsided, abnormal brain wave activity was detected in patients during one study(Nordqvist, 2013). Furthermore, scientists detected wasting away of motor pathways, a brain abnormality associated with major problems in attention(Nordqvist, 2013).
"concussions lead to attention problems, which we can see using sophisticated techniques such as the EEG. This may also lead to motor problems in young athletes.This thinning correlated with memory decline and attention decline"(Nordqvist, 2013).
Patients who had experienced concussions as long as 30 years ago exhibited Parkinson's Disease-like symptoms, as well as notable problems in memory and attention(Nordqvist, 2013). Structural damage associated with Alzheimer's disease was also detected(Nordqvist, 2013).
Athletes who have experienced a concussion must must until a full recovery occurs (to the extent that such a thing as possible), since those who experienced a second concussion shortly after a first one are much more likely to experience much more serious brain damage(Nordqvist, 2013).
"If a child or any player has a concussion, they should be kept away from playing or doing any mental exercise until their symptoms abate. Concussions should not be taken lightly. We should really also follow former players in clinical settings to make sure they are not ageing prematurely in terms of cognition"(Nordqvist, 2013).
Davis, Nate. "Brett Favre: 'God only knows the toll' concussions too." 24 October 2013. Web. 24 October 24. Retrieved from: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2013/10/24/brett-favre-concussi...
Nordqvist, Joseph. "Concussions Cause Long-Term Effects Lasting Decades." 13 February 2013. Web. 24 October 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/256518.php