LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The late-Ken Stabler was an Oakland Raiders legend, but was also the most famous quarterback ever diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
His diagnosis announced Wednesday is a reminder that no position may be safe from the debilitating brain disease and has more young athletes reconsidering the risk of concussions.
“I was in the outfield during practice and one of our seniors from last year hit the ball and I got hit on the side of my head,” said 16-year-old Phoebe Lewin, who suffered the first of two concussions while playing high school softball last year.
Then last month, Lewin bumped heads with a cousin and was back at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with another concussion.
“I was having pretty bad nausea and some pressure in the head,” she said.
Concussions have been in the movies and in the news recently, namely the potential for long-term health effects, like CTE, a degenerative brain disease.
“It occurs or is defined by a presence of excess protein, specific protein in the brain accumulates and it’s also defined by a certain set of symptoms and a sense of cognitive issues, difficulties with memory and other emotional issues like anxiety and depression,” Tracy Zaslow, a sports medicine doctor at CHLA, said.
CHLA is currently building a database of young concussion patients to follow their progress as they enter adulthood and beyond to monitor for any long-term health effects.
It’s a concern Lewin’s mother has.
“The drive to constantly go back into the game sort of makes everybody ignore what could possibly come up,” said Judith Lewin.
Zaslow says, while concussion awareness has increased in the last decade, too many athletes don’t seek proper treatment.
“If an athlete is appropriately treated for a concussion, that all concussion signs and symptoms resolve, and the athlete undergoes a gradual return to play without a recurrence of symptoms, that they are unlikely to have long-term lasting effects,” Zaslow said.
As for Lewin, she was just cleared to play again.