Cogwear CEO David Yonce discusses the crucial need for CTE awareness.
Back to School Brain Safety
As the new school year dawns and sports seasons kick into gear, I find myself reflecting on the innovations in athlete safety and the pressing need to elevate awareness around Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). In the spirit of schools and athletics back in session, let's take a moment to acknowledge both the joys and challenges of competitive sports and discuss crucial safety measures.
CTE, a neurodegenerative disease that leads to early-onset dementia, has become an alarming concern for athletes, especially in contact sports like football and rugby. In the UK, the issue has reached a legal crescendo with almost 400 former professional rugby and football players suing the sport's governing bodies for failure to protect them from the risk of brain trauma.
What causes CTE?
What researchers are now learning is that CTE is not caused by one large concussion, but an accumulation of smaller "subconcussions." The problem is rotational forces - angled forces that cause the brain to rotate inside the skull. Noted researcher Ann C. McKee published in a peer-reviewed journal this week that examined the brains of deceased amateur athletes. Results found through brain examination demonstrated that 41% had evidence of CTE, and within that percentage, 71% had played contact sports at a non-professional level. Sports included American football, ice hockey, soccer, rugby, and wrestling.
This is not a disorder that only affects professional male athletes such as NFL players, this affects amateurs as well, both male and female.
Why does this matter, and what can we do about it?
As CEO of a brain technology company and a father of two daughters who played both varsity and college soccer, I see firsthand the importance of neurological function and its impact on individuals. This realization led to Cogwear’s partnership with UK company Rezon. Their unique Rotection® technology combined with our app-sensor technology has the potential to minimize the life-changing risks of concussions and sub-concussions with protective elements while also monitoring brain reactions in real-time and on the field.
How does this apply to your world - whether as a parent, coach, medical professional, or sports enthusiast?
Educate and Advocate: Understanding CTE and the importance of brain protection (beyond just the skull) is vital. Encourage awareness amongst players, so they can notice signs and symptoms among peers.
Adopt the Right Protection: Equip young athletes with scientifically validated protective gear like Rezon Halos®, ensuring the minimization of risk from both single high-force impacts and more common sub-concussions. And be on the lookout for our Cogwear/Rezon combined device in 2024, which will add risk detection to the award-winning protection.
Emphasize Early Prevention: Remember, CTE is preventable, and every additional impact increases the odds of being diagnosed with CTE. Early protection matters.
In closing, the back-to-school season should resonate with joy, teamwork, and triumph. But let's also allow it to resonate with responsibility, safety, and wisdom. The investments we make in our young athletes' today will shape not only their careers but also their long, healthy, and happy lives.
Wishing all athletes, coaches, and educators a successful and safe sporting season. Together, we can rewrite the narrative of safety in sports.
About the Author
David Yonce is the CEO of Cogwear, with over 20 years in the medical device industry. Formerly an executive at DSM Biomedical, Endo Healthcare, and AMS, he is skilled at restructuring companies for growth and acquisition. Yonce has helped deliver more than 50 products to market, and he has been awarded 54 patents.