Jamaica Gleaner / Sports minister Olivia Grange says the Government will be assisting in the research on traumatic head injuries in sport. She said this will be done with the support of the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) newly created Faculty of Sport.
Grange’s comments follow those of UWI’s consultant neurosurgeon, Dr Carl Bruce, who said that not enough information currently exists regarding chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), or punch-drunk syndrome as it is more commonly known in Jamaica.
CTE is a disease that deteriorates the brain over time, because of repetitive trauma to the organ. However, this disease is not usually found in athletes until after their deaths, although early signs of its onset can be detected while persons are still alive.
Grange said that the Ministry of Sport is aware of the need for more research on the issue, and as such, it will form relevant partnerships with UWI and other institutions.
“At the moment, we are working in partnership with the University of the West Indies and Usain Bolt, to establish a Sports Science Centre, which will play a critical role in research,” Grange told The Gleaner .
“Research is an important aspect and we are, in fact, restructuring the sports sector, and our international relations, our bilateral agreements, our partnership with other countries will include the important aspect of research in those areas.”
Difficult to master
Bruce recently told The Gleaner that CTE is difficult to master because the research required for it is long-term.
” My personal experience with CTE is not great because I do a lot more acute management of patients, so I will see them and I will manage them for the acute injury,” he said. “As you know, CTE takes a longer period of time, and as a result of that, you need to have long-term follow- ups with those patients. We are getting that data but I don’t think we can say that we have enough data, yet on the long-term effects of contact sports in Jamaica.
“Even though we don’t have American football, it can still happen in soccer, it can still happen in volleyball or rugby, cheerleading, boxing, but we don’t have that body of professional sports athletes in the volume for us to see the amount of CTE, that they are seeing in, for example, the NFL.”