Michelle Castillo , CBS News
Brett Favre's admission that he experiences memory loss has shed
light on the neurological toll repeated concussions may have on athletes
who participate in contact sports.
Multiple reports have said
that the St. Louis Rams -- whose lead quarterback Sam Bradford is out
for the season with a knee injury -- asked Favre to take over signal
caller duties for them. Favre revealed in a radio interview with SportsTalk 570
on Thursday that the team did not reach out to him directly but to his
agent. If he had been offered the opportunity, he said would have
declined to come out of retirement, detailing the memory woes that face
"This was a little shocking to me that I couldn't
remember my daughter playing youth soccer," he said. "It was just one
summer, I think. I could remember her playing basketball, I could
remember her playing volleyball, so I kind of think maybe (I thought)
she only played a (soccer) game or two. Well, I think she played like
eight. So that's a little bit scary to me. So for the first time in 44
years, that kind of put a little fear in me."
CBS This Morning reports that during his career, Favre was sacked 525 times, experiencing an unknown number of concussions.
has had several documented concussions, including the last play of his
career with the Minnesota Vikings in 2010, which he described as so
severe he didn't even know what team he was playing, according to CBS Sports.
I first started playing, those first 10 years, they didn't keep a log
like they do now, so there's no telling," Favre said.
Giza, a pediatric neurologist and traumatic brain injury researcher at
UCLA, told CBSNews.com that loss of memory is a common symptom among
people who have experienced multiple concussions.
"If you've had many, many concussions, (memory problems) can be
cumulative when you're getting older," Giza said. "That's a common
Giza hasn't treated Farve, but he's a head trauma
expert who co-authored the new American Academy of Neurology guidelines
on sports-related concussions. Previously, concussions were graded based
on perceived severity, and then recommendations were made as to how
long a player should stay out of the game. Now, the academy recommends
that there's any doubt about a player's condition, he or she should be kept out of athletic activity.
explained that as recently as 10 years ago, there was a common
misconception that a person had to be knocked unconscious to have a
"Now we know that 90 percent of concussions occur without a loss of consciousness," he said.
addition, recent research suggests that repeatedly getting hit in the
head can add up and cause neurological issues. Several studies have
shown chronic cognitive impairment
in people who participate in contact sports correlated to the number of
concussions sustained and the number of years played. A recent study
showed that former NFL players who said they suffered from neurological
problems because of their time on the field had more patterns of unusual brain activity than healthy individuals.
"Certainty at the professional levels we have seen some cognitive costs," Giza said.
There's also a growing concern over chronic traumatic encephalopathy
(CTE) caused by multiple head blows. The progressive degenerative brain
disease has been found in athletes who have had multiple concussions
or other brain trauma, but it can only be diagnosed after death. CTE
causes dementia-like issues including memory loss, changes in mood like
depression, problems with cognition, behaviors like confusion and
aggression, and difficulty with motor abilities.
Such brain changes can begin months, years or decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement, Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (sometimes referred to as the "NFL's brain bank" for diagnosing the disease in deceases athletes) notes.
Ginza pointed out that memory loss is a tricky area, and there may be other medical causes unrelated to blows to the head.
He added that the only evidence we have that CTE exists is based on
case reports, which he admits is the lowest form of data. It reveals
that this conditions can happen, but doesn't reveal the chance a person
will develop it, nor if genetic predisposition, contact sports or other
issues are behind the prevalence of the brain disease.
contact sports leagues are well-aware of these issues. The NFL in
particular has made several changes including outlawing helmet-to-helmet
hits and preventing players who had a concussion from returning to the
field that same game. Giza pointed out that studies suggest the move to
shorten the distance for kickoff returns may reduce the number of
concussions during these plays.
Still, more remains to be done to prevent concussions and neurological issues related to repeated head blows, said Giza.
"(Sports leagues) made some sensible decisions," he said. "That doesn't
meant they've done everything possible in football and contact sports...
even though some of the education is getting out there, people still
don't understand enough or take that education and change their