Traumatic Brain Injury Links Football Players to King Henry VIII

By now, you’ve probably heard of the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), most popularly linked to football players who receive multiple sub-concussive blows to the head.

Briefly, CTE is a type of traumatic brain injury. The disease can be spurred on by symptomatic concussions as well as sub-concussive hits to the head that do not cause immediate symptoms. CTE is characterized by degradation of brain tissue and the accumulation of tau protein, causing symptoms such as memory loss, aggression, confusion and deep depression that can appear years after initial brain trauma.

Dr. Bennet Omalu is often credited with discovering and naming CTE in 2002 during the autopsy of a former NFL player. But while the words “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” are fairly new in scientific literature, the disease may not be.

In a recent study, Yale researchers suggest Henry VIII — the eccentric English monarch — may have suffered from traumatic brain injury (TBI), even CTE specifically.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, the researchers analyzed volumes of Henry’s letters and other historical sources to document his known medical history and events that may have contributed to his ailments.

Henry suffered two major head injuries during his 30s. In 1524, a lance penetrated the visor of his helmet during a jousting tournament and dazed him. A year later, he was knocked out when he fell head first into a brook he was trying to vault across with a pole. However, the English monarch’s increasingly unpredictable behavior may have been triggered by an accident during a jousting match in January 1536 when a horse fell on him, causing Henry to lose consciousness for two hours.

Traumatic brain injury could explain the memory problems, explosive anger, inability to control impulses, headaches and insomnia —> Read More