Former CFL lineman Rick Klassen’s brain showed extensive CTE

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mountaincat
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Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:35 am

Former BC Lions’ defensive lineman Rick Klassen may have died of lymphoma last December, but an autopsy of his brain has shown extensive chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurological disease that has led to such suspected symptoms as erratic behaviour and dementia.

Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati, a pathologist with the Canadian Concussion Centre at Krembil Neuroscience Centre in Toronto, conducted the examination of Mr. Klassen’s 57-year-old brain, and the results were released Thursday. According to Dr. Hazrati, the brain “looked like it came from somebody in his 70s, 80s for that deposit of tau [the bad protein that kills brain cells]. You don’t expect those at his age.”

Dr. Hazrati also found argyrophilic grain disease (which leads to a type of dementia). It was the first time she had seen it in combination with CTE.

[...]

At last year’s Grey Cup, then-CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said there was no conclusive evidence linking hits to the head and brain disorders, such as CTE. That comment generated much scorn, since it was made months after the NFL admitted in a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce that there was a connection between head shots and CTE.

“I can’t speculate or comment on what the NFL’s findings have been and what led them to that conclusion,” Mr. Orridge said last November. “Last I heard, it’s still a subject of debate in the medical and scientific community … The league’s position is there’s no conclusive evidence at this point.”
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/ ... e35571845/

more here:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-c ... -1.4192736

http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news ... ted-damage

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/ ... e35622919/

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WestCoastJoe
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Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:42 am

These injuries put pro sports at risk. NHL, NFL, CFL.

Big settlements could easily wipe out the CFL.

As I have noted a number of times, I actually would like to see football go back to leather helmets. There would still be injuries of course. But the helmets would not be the very dangerous weapons that they are now.

Just IMO ...
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WestCoastJoe
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Mon Jul 10, 2017 4:48 am

Helmet to helmet ...
helmet-to-helmet.jpg
AP120205054139.jpg
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John Madden's Team Policies: Be on time. Pay attention. Play like hell on game day.

Jimmy Johnson's Game Keys: Protect the ball. Make plays.

Walter Payton's Advice to Kids: Play hard. Play fair. Have fun.

TheLionKing
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Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:50 pm

Orridge's comments about concussion is ridiculous at the very least.

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Gridiron Ernie
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Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:01 pm

Gridiron Ernie wrote:
Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:30 am
Just noticed a sobering info-bit scrolling bottom of my TV screen stating that autopsy results for our fallen Lion Rick K. have indicated CTE. As we all know, chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative condition found in people who've suffered repeated blows to the head. What's particularly sobering is that not only concussions contribute, but also asymtomatic subsoncussive hits -- of which there are countless in our beloved game. Thank goodness for stricter rules and better helmets over the decades -- but bottom line, these young fellows are taking significant risks for sake of entertainment. It is a relief to know that they're educated on this and it's their choice and they continue to come to play and enjoy it! But, still, I do feel particularly conflicted when I read a news item such as this, regards Rick Klassen. Hardly surprising that this was the case, but sobering just the same. My hat's off to all our guys on our team and across the league(s) -- wishing a safe season ongoing!
I'm quoting myself (please excuse) from a different thread from last week because herein I'd (perhaps rather naively, in light of your comment/opinion WCJ today)) expressed thankfulness for "better helmets". I've never actually been on the battlefield (so to speak) -- always just a spectator -- and some of you Lionbackers (including you WCJ) have been coaches and/or players and know from firsthand experience about the pros and cons of these developments, i.e. the modern helmet. I'm sincerely interested to hear further sharing of information on this matter -- a subject that is so vitally important to the players, and to the league(s).

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Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:36 pm

This recent story from Pro Football Talk about what appears to be a very solid study (and published in a top-tier peer-reviewed medical journal) should provide some measure of reassurance to those wondering about having their sons play high-school football.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/20 ... -football/

Of course, continued exposure to head injuries through four years of college football and then a number of years in the pro ranks can be expected to yield a greater than average prevalence of CTE. The evidence seems to point to the significance of a long accumulation of such hits to the head.

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WestCoastJoe
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Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:58 am

Thanks for posting, mountaincat.
At last year’s Grey Cup, then-CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said there was no conclusive evidence linking hits to the head and brain disorders, such as CTE. That comment generated much scorn, since it was made months after the NFL admitted in a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce that there was a connection between head shots and CTE.
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/ ... e35571845/
... the NFL admitted in a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce that there was a connection between head shots and CTE.
... To the athletes in general who are thinking about playing contact sports – either think twice about playing the sport or really be cognitive of the risks and make sure they’re being an advocate for better equipment and safer playing conditions.” -- Chad Klassen
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-c ... -1.4192736
"The reason we link these two things is because it's been reported in boxers, hockey and football players. It is assumed that because they have suffered a lot of blows to their head, that is what is causing the CTE."

Recently departed CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge refused to acknowledge a link between football concussions and CTE, but Klassen hopes the results of his father's autopsy will help push the league to take the issue more seriously.

"The NFL has done a little bit better job than the CFL but hopefully those two leagues become a little bit more conscious of how their players are being impacted," he said. -- Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati
http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news ... ted-damage
Us kids were small — I would have been five or six years old — and he definitely changed,” said Chad, a sports reporter with CFJC-TV in Kamloops. “He would anger very easily and snap on you. (At the time) I think he was totally unaware of why that was happening.”

Concussion and its downstream effects touch every member of the family, he said.

“To this day my brother, sister and myself feel the effects of how he treated us,” he said. “There were good times, but it could also be terrifying.”

An analysis of Klassen’s brain by researchers at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre’s Canadian Concussion Centre found signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative brain disorder linked to multiple concussions.

“The autopsy seems to make those links with his behaviour and it seems to me that the effects of CTE were there,” said Chad Klassen.
.........................

Thanks for posting, mountaincat

Obviously, a most important subject. Health has to be a top priority.

I think most football fans believe modern helmets provide protection. IMO they become weapons. They are the head of the hammer, delivered by incredibly strong, large athletes. Both the hitter and hittee are at risk.

Change does happen. Back in the 1960s I recall reading an S.I. article about a college team that had football athletes, in full gear, line up 5 yards apart, charge each other, and butt heads at full speed. That could not be done nowadays.

Yes, the athletes choose to play the sport. And some risk takers would put their lives on the line for livelihood or excitement or dopamine. What will bring about change? Lawsuits will bring change.

Re leather helmets ... A tackler would not use his head as they do nowadays, if the only protection he has is a leather helmet. They would focus more on the shoulder. Shoulder injuries? Yup. But that is a much lesser cost than brain injuries.

This fan wants the CFL to continue (NHL and NFL also). It seems evident that huge lawsuits and injury settlements could threaten the existence of the CFL.

And this fan does not like the exposure to brain injuries these athletes endure. One sympathizes with the athletes and with their families.
John Madden's Team Policies: Be on time. Pay attention. Play like hell on game day.

Jimmy Johnson's Game Keys: Protect the ball. Make plays.

Walter Payton's Advice to Kids: Play hard. Play fair. Have fun.

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WestCoastJoe
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Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:48 am

Rick Klassen, for his part, had no regrets about his chosen career.

“I asked him close to the end of his life, would you do it all over again knowing what you know now?” said Chad. “He said, absolutely. He just loved the game that much.”
This is how this fan remembers Rick Klassen. Energy. Hustle. Form tackling. His enthusiasm and love for the game were obvious.

But we see there was a downside from the injuries. Health issues. Family stress, and even abuse.
“To this day my brother, sister and myself feel the effects of how he treated us,” he said. “There were good times, but it could also be terrifying.” -- Chad Klassen
Rick Klassen.png
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John Madden's Team Policies: Be on time. Pay attention. Play like hell on game day.

Jimmy Johnson's Game Keys: Protect the ball. Make plays.

Walter Payton's Advice to Kids: Play hard. Play fair. Have fun.

Blitz
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Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:45 am

Gridiron Ernie wrote:
Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:01 pm
Gridiron Ernie wrote:
Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:30 am
Just noticed a sobering info-bit scrolling bottom of my TV screen stating that autopsy results for our fallen Lion Rick K. have indicated CTE. As we all know, chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative condition found in people who've suffered repeated blows to the head. What's particularly sobering is that not only concussions contribute, but also asymtomatic subsoncussive hits -- of which there are countless in our beloved game. Thank goodness for stricter rules and better helmets over the decades -- but bottom line, these young fellows are taking significant risks for sake of entertainment. It is a relief to know that they're educated on this and it's their choice and they continue to come to play and enjoy it! But, still, I do feel particularly conflicted when I read a news item such as this, regards Rick Klassen. Hardly surprising that this was the case, but sobering just the same. My hat's off to all our guys on our team and across the league(s) -- wishing a safe season ongoing!
I'm quoting myself (please excuse) from a different thread from last week because herein I'd (perhaps rather naively, in light of your comment/opinion WCJ today)) expressed thankfulness for "better helmets". I've never actually been on the battlefield (so to speak) -- always just a spectator -- and some of you Lionbackers (including you WCJ) have been coaches and/or players and know from firsthand experience about the pros and cons of these developments, i.e. the modern helmet. I'm sincerely interested to hear further sharing of information on this matter -- a subject that is so vitally important to the players, and to the league(s).
Concussions are a topic that I'm very interested in. I had three concussions during my football playing days but there was a reasonable amount of time between each one, which they say can be positive. Still its a worry and I know has had some impact ...as you can tell by my long posts...:)

More seriously though, the days of dealing with a concussion as having 'your bell rung' are thankfully over. I remember playng nauseous and I also remember the aftermath...the being woken up every hour, the oversensitivity to sound and light and the world looking surreal.

As a football coach in 'days of old', thankfully I didn't treat concussions as just 'getting your bell rung". My own experiences had taught me differently. But I also didn't treat player concussions as seriously as I wish I should have and that bothers me.

Obviously the more hits to the head the more potential for damage. Pros play the game longer and the hits are more violent but hits to the head in football take place at every level.

I remember Riddel being the helmet of choice during my coaching days. They attempted to do a lot to attempt to protect players with new technology happening often but the reality is that there is only so much that can be done in terms of helmets....its the brain rattling inside the head that causes the problems and any hit to the head, helmet or not can cause that.

Concussions happen in rugby, even though ruby players are taught to tackle without leading with the head and they don't wear helmets. Concussions happened often in hockey, even in the days before they wore hockey helmets (but probably less often).

There are no easy answers to the problem. Its going to continue to be a huge issue in the future.
"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team". (George Raveling)

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Gridiron Ernie
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Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:01 pm

Thanks very much for the links (mountaincat & South Pender), and thanks for those anecdotes (WestCoastJoe & Blitz). A solid little collection of thoughts and experiences -- a nice primer/education regarding an enormous issue looming over contact sports, and our favourite game.

Mr. Ambrosie doesn't likely read Lionbackers, but whatever his go-to sources, he needs to distance himself from and absolutely negate the ignorant comment of his predecessor. As a former player he might be more-so inclined. Admittedly, it's not a fun topic -- but vital.

For peace of mind as a passionate fan, week to week, I don't want my league commissioner in denial about the consequences of the on-the-field activities of all those bright young healthy fellows, activities that give many of us pause regards whether or not we'd want our sons/grandsons/nephews engaging for any sustained length of time.

What's a no-brainer is that this needs to be publicly acknowledged, and then seriously addressed. For the CFL, that's a start at least. /Thanks again guys.

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BC 1988
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Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:36 pm

I heard the Chad Klassen interview on 1040, that was hard to listen to what his father (and by extension his family) was going through. Very much like how the NFL players' stories were depicted in Concussion (an excellent film even if it's only "based on actual events").

The question about Orridge is: Was that his personal opinion or was he toeing the party line of his bosses? Since he resigned over "differences" with them and both sides are refusing to say what those "differences" were, it makes you wonder.

I guess we'll find out soon with the direction Ambrosie takes (or tries to take) the league on the issue.

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Gridiron Ernie
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Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:02 am

BC 1988 wrote:
Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:36 pm
The question about Orridge is: Was that his personal opinion or was he toeing the party line of his bosses? Since he resigned over "differences" with them and both sides are refusing to say what those "differences" were, it makes you wonder.
Good point. I should not cast shade solely on Orridge regards this issue. The powers that be had every opportunity to chime in with alternate/enlightened views and so far as I recall did not. That line of thinking needed correcting. Indeed, as you say, BC 1988, it makes you wonder. Shudder to think. (If I missed any comments that any of the league bosses might have made with a differing/informed point of view, I'll gladly stand corrected.)

South Pender
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Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:27 pm

A recent and compelling peer-reviewed article from the Journal of the American Medical Association on CTE in NFL players contains some really alarming results.

The authors acknowledge that the study is not fully and perfectly controlled (something that's not possible in research on CTE), but its findings are sufficiently dramatic to support the conclusion, pretty convincingly, that playing football--at least at the pro level--will very likely lead to CTE.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/25/health/ct ... index.html

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Sir Purrcival
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Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:44 am

As our knowlege of this medical condition continues to grow and broaden, there is one very simple question that I believe will affect the future of this and many other sports that people enjoy.

Would you as a parent enroll your children in sports that have a known link to CTE?

If it were my child, I would have to say no and I doubt very much I would be alone in that sentiment. That is bound to have an effect on the future of some of these sports. There will always be those that are willing to take the risk I suppose but since many of these athletic pursuits require years of commitment from an early age, it seems likely that it will be harder and harder to find parents willing to support their children's desires to play such games. I'm not making a commentary good or bad about these sports. There are many positives aspects to them but it seems pretty obvious that allowing young people to engage in something that may result later in permanent mental impairment or premature death is something that is going to come under increasing scrutiny and criticism.
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Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:22 am

South Pender wrote:
Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:27 pm
A recent and compelling peer-reviewed article from the Journal of the American Medical Association on CTE in NFL players contains some really alarming results.

The authors acknowledge that the study is not fully and perfectly controlled (something that's not possible in research on CTE), but its findings are sufficiently dramatic to support the conclusion, pretty convincingly, that playing football--at least at the pro level--will very likely lead to CTE.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/25/health/ct ... index.html
again this was talked about on 1040, one of the issues here is families who see signs of dementia, mental problems, etc are the ones donating the brains .. thats why the rates are soooooo high. while thousands of other players brains with no issues, aren't really being tested.

that being said no doubt that head injury sports like football, boxing, hockey ... even soccer isn't good for you long-term ... basically a meat-grinder for our entertainment

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