by Hallee Foster '15
Three-letter acronyms abound in our society – NRA, NBA, CDC – and often name agencies that seldom interact. However, an unlikely friendship has recently formed between two three-letter permutations that seem to occupy opposite sides of the spectrum: NFL and NIH. In 2012, the NFL – yes, the National Football League – donated a whopping $30 million to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health to fund research on traumatic brain injury – a subject that hits close to home for the NFL and its players.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem with an ever-widening scope of severity. It is currently the number one cause of death amongst young adults  and is a particular menace to young athletes. Perhaps even more frightening than its prevalence is its nebulosity. We have no rapid, reliable diagnostic methods for concussions and know little about the long-term consequences of repetitive insult to the head other than the high risk of developing progressive brain degeneration, chronic traumatic encephalography (CTE). Brains afflicted by CTE show demonstrable physical damage, including excess protein build up and tangled cells. CTE produces symptoms analogous to those of Alzheimer’s – irritability, confusion, depression, mood swings, memory loss, and cognitive difficulties. Preliminary tests have revealed that several former high-profile athletes, including Hall of Fame running back, Tony Dorsett, may be living with CTE. Fifty-four former-NFL players have donated their brains for scientific analysis post-mortem to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University. Fifty-two of said brains show marked signs of brain damage from repeated concussions .
by Nari Lee '17
Have you ever wondered why you can’t pull off those triple axels just like they do in the Winter Olympics? Well, as it turns out, three of the most popular winter sports—ice hockey, figure skating, and speed skating—are dependent on ice skates, and the athletes in each category need skates that fit their individual needs.
Take ice hockey, for example. Players need skates that can endure up to twenty minutes of high intensity, high velocity play, while allowing for agility on the ice. Thus the boot of an Olympic hockey player is crafted from synthetic materials that form to his feet when heated. The molded fit helps reduce energy wasted from the foot moving around inside of the boot and instead applies that energy towards forward motion.
The blades under the hockey player’s boots, though built of the same highest quality steel, are shorter and lighter than other blades. This adaptation allows for both speed and quick stops or turns.