As the administrator of the Brain Injury Research Institute, I’d like to welcome you to our site. I cannot tell you how honored I am to be working on efforts to better educate the public about the devastating effects of brain injures. My father was Mike Webster, Hall of Fame Center for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the first diagnosed case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). During the last three years of my father’s life, I was his primary caregiver and witnessed the effects a brain injury can have on the family and friends of those who suffer from the condition.
When my dad started playing in the NFL, he was a loving husband, wonderful father, and a smart, caring, funny man. He was deeply devoted to the lord, his family, and his friends. Near the end of his career and through the years after, things began to change very dramatically. He grew increasingly violent and angry with those around him. In the end he died broke, alone, and with only a few loyal friends still looking out for him.
Shortly after my father’s death in 2002, we received a call from a doctor named Bennet Omalu. Dr. Omalu asked to examine my dad’s brain because he believed there was a medical explanation for his behavior during the last 10 years of his life. He found a condition known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a type of permanent brain damage caused by repeated blows to the head. My father was the first football player to be diagnosed with CTE.
I cannot tell you how much of a relief it was to learn that my father was not wholly responsible for his behavior and actions. I could recognize that his behavior was a side effect of the condition from which he suffered.
Since my father’s diagnosis in 2000, researchers from the Brain Injury Research institute have gone on to examine the brains of more than 20 amateur and professional sports athletes. But much more research remains as we search for ways to treat and prevent CTE—in athletes at all levels of play in every contact sport and even among military personnel. We are looking for answers—not only for those who suffer from CTE (or may one day), but for their families and loved ones, as well.
I would love to extend an invitation to you to help us learn more about the relationship between head injures and long-term brain damage. If you would like to help the Brain Injury Research Institute by making a financial contribution, please contact me.
Thanks for your interest in CTE and for considering to aid us in the fight,