Emily Kelly’s account of her husband’s journey with CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is not only a sad one but a classic one. She is not alone. Like Alzheimer’s, degenerative brain disease presents itself in different forms of dementia. Memory loss, mood swings, depression and behavior changes all take their toll. Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area has had several former football players at Charlie’s Place Activity and Respite Center. One, in particular, received benefits from the NFL for his disability and care. The brain autopsy completed upon his passing confirmed the results of the repetitive concussions received over years of high school, college and professional football. In his wife’s words, the brain autopsy showed “his brain was mush.” It was a high price to pay for a Super Bowl ring. At Charlie’s Place, he was treated with dignity and participated in a variety of activities. A favorite memory of him was this big, still strong man sitting at the piano trying to play once again. It will forever be etched in my mind.
There have been many improvements implemented in football helmets, rules of tackle and periods of recovery for concussion that are more protective of the players. The NFL and even the NCAA recognize the consequences. Louisiana has more than its fair share of football players. Whether it be Alzheimer’s disease or concussion-caused dementia, Alzheimer’s Services is here to serve those in the Capital Area with memory-impaired dementia — no discrimination.
Barbara W. Auten
executive director, Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area