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STUDENT NEWS

NFL and CTE

Aired January 11, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: When no one got into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year, we asked what you thought about it. Some of you stepped up to the plate with your opinions, and we are going to share some of them on today`s show. I`m Carl Azuz, CNN STUDENT NEWS starts right now.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, it`s usually called CTE, it`s a brain disease that can lead to dementia, memory loss or depression. Officials say it`s sometimes seen in people after they suffer multiple hits to the head. The National Institute of Health says it`s a disease that former NFL linebacker Junior Seau had. He played 20 years in the league. Last May, he took his own life. Seau`s family donated his brain for research. That`s how doctors discovered that he had CTE. Experts stay being exposed to repeated head trauma doesn`t necessarily mean that you`ll get this disease, but a recent study found signs of CTE in the brains of 34 out of 35 former pro-football players. Thousands of former players are suing the NFL. They say the league ignored and then denied a link between football and brain damage. NFL officials have changed several rules and made new policies to focus on head trauma and the possible dangers it might cause. This isn`t just an issue at the professional level, it can happen to younger players, too.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was October, 28, 2010, the last game of the senior year. The best game of his career. He ran for two touch downs, 165 yards in just the first two quarters. And then two minutes before half time, he walked off the field, screamed that his head hurt and he collapsed. Nathan died early the next morning.

Nathan died of second impact syndrome - earlier in the month, at a home coming game he got a concussion. Everyone, including Nathan`s doctor thought it had healed. The Stiles would find meaning in Nathan`s tragic death because of this woman ...

DR. ANN MCKEE: I think the last time you were here we had maybe five brains ....

GUPTA (on camera): Right.

MCKEE: And now we`re up to - we`re in the 90s.

GUPTA (voice over): Dr. Ann McKee runs the world`s largest brain bank. It`s a joint project between the Veterans Administration and Boston University. I first met her several years ago when she began finding evidence in the brains of deceased NFL players of unnatural tau-protein deposits. Those are the same kinds of proteins found in Alzheimer`s patients. It`s called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It`s a progressive degenerative disease, which leads to dementia and Alzheimer`s like symptoms. But the difference is these symptoms are usually found in people in their 80s, not their 40s.

(on camera): What we are seeing here, is this definitely caused by blows to the head?

MCKEE: It`s never been seen in any reported case, except in the case of repeated blows to the head.

GUPTA (voice over): And that`s exactly what the Stiles wanted to know when they donated Nathan`s brain to McKee center. Did repeated blows to the brain cause that kind of damage in young Nathan`s brain? And the answer was yes. Under the microscope ...

(on camera): That`s really obvious, Dr. McKee.

(voice over): We saw a tell-tale signs of tau-protein.

(on camera): Does this surprise you?

MCKEE: Yes, it definitely did. It can start very early.

GUPTA: It`s amazing. 17-years old.

MCKEE: 17.

GUPTA (voice over): When the young developing brain is hit during football, no matter how hard, the brain is rocked, it`s like an egg inside a shell. It stretches the delicate fibers pulled, fluids violently sloshed around the brain trying to absorb the blow.

MCKEE: Youth are at risk for any changes in that fluid balance, and they may not be able to handle it as well.

GUPTA (voice over): It sounds like you are saying, they are more at risk than adults.

MCKEE: Oh, absolutely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To see how easy it is to spread germs, we tried out this experiment with something called "glow germ"

(on camera): I rubbed it into my hands and take a look at how easily you could spread germs. First, I pick up the phone. And then I get on the computer. And then I grabbed the remote control. And when you leave the office and turn off the lights, well, look, what you`ve left behind.

(voice over): Just look at what this black light picked up. If these were the flu virus or cold germs, I would be leaving a trail behind for someone else to catch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: There are a lot of germs floating around out there right now. A germ expert recently ranked the top hot spots for germs in public places, and one of them is where I`m sitting right now, a restaurant table. The reason being that so many people use this, and there`s not usually a lot of cleaning going on. That same reason`s behind where you`ll find germs in other spots, like take for instance a shopping cart. Did you ever notice how the handlebar might seem greasy? That`s because it`s dirty. And when you go to check out at the store, watch out for those touchscreens in the self check-out line. Soap itself is clean, but soap dispensers like the refillable ones in public bathrooms, not very much there. So, one germ experts advice here, for tables and carts, use one of those disinfected wipes before you use the card. And as far as touch screens and soap dispensers are concerned, maybe consider using a hand sanitizer afterward

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today "Shoutout" goes out to Ms. Molbert`s classes at Massaponax High School in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Which of these marine animals has a skeleton that`s mostly made up of cartilage? Here we go: is it a bottle-nosed dolphin, killer whale, great white shark or black sea bass? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Great whites like all sharks have skeletons made out of cartilage. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: On order to study these sharks, scientists have to get their hands on them, but what do you do once you land a great white? Researchers tagged this one with a transmitter. Her name is Mary Lee, 16 feet long, weighs 3400 pounds, she`s a beast. The researchers put the transmitter on her because they wanted to track her movements. Check out the red path here - it starts in Massachusetts where Mary Lee was caught in September, researchers were able to follow the great white as she migrated down to Florida. She usually stayed about ten to 20 miles off the coast. But on Tuesday, the transmitter sent a signal from just 200 yards off Jacksonville Beach. Scientists gave the heads up to police who warned people at the beach to stay away from the water until Mary Lee headed out to sea. When you were younger, you might have dreamed about being an astronaut, you probably didn`t dream about owning a NASA launch pad or much less, a chair or a desk from the space agency, but those are a lot easier to come by right now. This next report explains why NASA has space for sale.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NASA is abandoning the launch pad that springboarded the first Moon landing along with many shuttle flights. At the Kennedy Space Center after 8,000 or so, post-shuttle layoffs, there are acres of old office chairs, desks and equipment no longer in use. Buildings need tenants. Even the world famous Vehicle Assembly Building, one of the world`s largest buildings, could be available to the right company with the right plan for its youth.

JOYCE RIQUELME, NASA: We have, however, been in the negotiations with some companies, or discussions with at least two companies who are - have been interested in that facility.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NASQAR is renting the space shuttle runway for race car tests. Boeing is paying for space in a former shuttle hangar building a commercial space ship. From NASA` s prospective, the idea is to give startup space companies a boost, an economic shot in the arm for the space costs. But in too many cases, NASA has not been able to find takers for its highly specialized assets.

RIQUELME: There is a lot of uncertainty in the - in the commercial space industry, in the NASA space industry, so there`s - things have not necessarily evolved as quickly as we would have liked.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: On yesterday`s baseball Hall of Fame story, Roberto agrees with the decision not to name any new players. He says, some players worked so hard to get to the Hall of Fame without using illegal substances. Jonathan disagrees: the accused players still worked hard and were dominant during their time in baseball. I think they should be rewarded for their performance. Ryan says, "Many of those who are accused of having used performance-enhancing drugs, have never been found guilty or admitted it. The steroid era is part of baseball history, and players during this ear should be recognized in some way." From Whitney, "I think it`s fair that they don`t get voted in, if they really did do those drugs. Right now they are just being accused of doing those drugs. Evan says, "One bad apple ruins the bunch, so I don`t think anyone should be voted in the Hall of Fame. And Nathaniel thinks that today`s "players are a sad contrast to the true baseball heroes of the U.S. Past. People need to trust that they don`t need drugs to make themselves true heroes."

Finally today, Pablo Picasso is considered a master of cubism, but when it comes to Rubik`s cubism, he got nothing on Max Park. Ten-year-old is one of the fastest people on the planet that`s solving this particular puzzles. He first picked one up on a doctor`s recommendation, as a way to work on his motor skills. When his parents took him to watch a competition, Max ended up in the competition. He posted a time that`s placed him among the world`s best: Max`s mom says he`s always working on new moves. It makes sense : if he wants to stay on top of his game, he needs to stay in shape. We`re going to leave it there because if you try to be punny when you are talking about Rubik`s cube, there`s a good chance you`ll just end up like a square. Don`t forget, MLK Day "I Reports." Describe Dr. King in just one word: deadline is next Tuesday, all the details at cnnstudentnews.com.

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