Joint Press

Committee to Examine Long-Term Impact of Sports-Related Brain Injuries

Former NFL and WWE athletes to testify

– Two former professional athletes, an NFL player and WWE wrestler, will head to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to share their stories about how repeated concussions have cut short their careers, robbed them of their memories and left them wondering how they will function as they grow older.

Ben Utecht, a Super Bowl-winning tight end for the Indianapolis Colts, and Chris Nowinski, a Harvard football player turned WWE professional wrestler, are among a growing number of former athletes from a wide range of sports who now suffer from long-term impairments caused by repeated blows to the head.

Both men will appear before a U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing that will explore the long-term impact of sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and its possible relationship to the development of neurological diseases later in life.  They will be joined by two prominent medical scientists who will discuss the latest research related to TBI and neurological diseases.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1.6 to 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related TBIs occur in the United States each year.  Research into the potential link between TBI and brain damage due specifically to sports-related injuries and neurological diseases is increasing, with a number of studies supporting some association between the two.  While researchers don’t understand fully the extent of the relationship between TBI and diseases such as Alzheimer’s yet, a growing body of evidence suggests that one complication of repetitive TBI is the later development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) or possibly Alzheimer’s disease. 



HEARING: State of Play: Brain Injuries and Diseases of Aging

2:15 p.m., Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 562



Chris Nowinski, Former Professional Wrestler, World Wrestling Entertainment, and Founding Executive Director, Sports Legacy Institute 

Ben Utecht, Former National Football League Tight End, Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts 

Jacob VanLandingham, PhD, Director of Neurobiological Research, Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Neuroscience Center, and Assistant Professor, Florida State University College of Medicine

 Robert Stern, PhD, Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Anatomy and Neurobiology, and Clinical Core Director, BU Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Boston University School of Medicine

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