PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Pitt legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett revealed this week that he has been diagnosed with symptoms consistent with CTE, the brain disease that has been linked to repeated concussions and found in a number of former football players.
UPMC neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon reacts with Vinnie & Cook on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan.
Dorsett may have become the first former football player to be diagnosed with CTE while still alive. But while Dr. Maroon notes that there have been many advances made in this field over the past year, he is hesitant to call this diagnosis a breakthrough.
“This is very, very preliminary,” he says. “There are many, many causes of dementia or progressive memory loss, particularly when you get over 60 or 70 years of age like Tony is. It’s something to obviously be concerned about, and the question is what can be done about it?”
Dr. Maroon also tells whether steroids and recreational drugs can have a factor in a CTE diagnosis.
“It comes into play in terms of degeneration or memory impairment of the brain, yes. Does it come into play with CTE? We don’t have good data that says it is, but I don’t think we can say that there isn’t a contributing factor,” Dr. Maroon said.
As for what Dorsett and others can do the combat the symptoms of CTE and other brain diseases, Dr. Maroon says, “You want to do everything you can to prevent inflammation of the brain. Our diet in this country is a very pro-inflammatory diet. This stuff all contributes to inflammation of the body and brain. A very important mechanism is an anti-inflammatory diet: the Mediterranean diet, fruits and vegetables, everything we know but don’t do.”
Even with this development, Dr. Maroon still believes that football is safe for children and teens under proper supervision.
“We’ve made huge, huge changes in protection compared to 20 years ago. There has to be an intelligent approach to this in terms of practice, equipment, the amount of days per scrimmage, and that sort of thing. I don’t think there’s a better sport for learning leadership, teamwork, camaraderie, and all the things that this country is desperately in need of.”
Hear Dr. Maroon’s entire interview with Vinnie & Cook below!