You are reading the article The Year In Service: Giving Thanks, And Time, Year updated in December 2023 on the website Daihoichemgio.com. We hope that the information we have shared is helpful to you. If you find the content interesting and meaningful, please share it with your friends and continue to follow and support us for the latest updates. Suggested January 2024 The Year In Service: Giving Thanks, And Time, YearThe Year in Service: Giving Thanks, and Time, Year-Round Part four of a five-part series on giving back to the community
Volunteers (left to right) Maddy Weber (COM’08), Rachel Mennies (CAS’08), and Steve Reilly (CAS’07) load food into the Student Food Rescue van. Photo by Vernon Doucette
Whether they’re delivering food to local homeless shelters or cleaning up the disaster-stricken Gulf Coast, many students at Boston University are eager to help people in need, in Boston and beyond. BU’s Community Service Center, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this past spring, is a great place for students to seek volunteer opportunities. With 13 student-run service programs — including the popular Alternative Spring Break and Student Food Rescue programs — and a volunteer base of approximately 1,500 people, the CSC clocks in more than 75,000 service hours each year.
By Vicky Waltz
When winter holidays loom like the Abominable Snowman, thoughts inevitably turn to food — turkey with cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, pecan pie. This is also the time that Salvation Army volunteers make their annual appearance outside supermarkets and department stores, their jingling bells reminding patrons that not everyone is fortunate enough to enjoy a hot meal or a warm bed during the holiday season.
“This is when people tend to become more aware of the fact that there are hungry people out there,” says Maureen Merrigan (CAS’08), who volunteers with the Boston University Community Service Center’s Student Food Rescue (SFR). “Our holidays tend to be really focused on food, which makes people want to help those who would otherwise go hungry.”
Volunteer inquiries spike around Thanksgiving, according to Sue Marsh, executive director of Rosie’s Place, a Boston-based shelter for poor and homeless women. In fact, interest is so high that volunteer spots can fill up as early as the summer. “I think people feel more charitable during the holidays because this is the time when we are home and tend to think of our families,” Marsh says. “But women are hungry and homeless every day of the year, and we’re always looking for volunteers.”
If you’d like to spend part of your holidays volunteering at a soup kitchen or shelter, now is a good time to contact the organizations and sign up for a spot. Below is a list of local organizations where members of the BU community can volunteer — now, later, and any day of the year.
Founded in 1988, BU Student Food Rescue annually collects 150,000 pounds of food from local restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, and coffee shops and delivers it to area food pantries, shelters, and low-income housing facilities. Students complete 22 two-hour food runs every week. Volunteers must commit for at least one semester. SFR works closely with the local organizations Community Servings and Fair Foods. For more information, call 617-353-4710 or e-mail [email protected].
A nondenominational faith-based initiative, the Boston Rescue Mission has aided the homeless and poor of Greater Boston since 1899. The Mission offers food, shelter, and social service programs to homeless men, women, and children, and provides them with the necessary support, training, and resources to eventually sustain independent living. For more information, contact volunteer coordinator Morgaine Gilchrist-Scott at 617-338-9000 or [email protected].
Community Servings provides free home-delivered meals throughout eastern Massachusetts to people with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses who are unable to shop or cook for themselves. Volunteers contribute more than 750 hours each week to prepare, package, and deliver 1,300 meals. Kitchen, van, and Saturday-delivery volunteers are all needed. For more information, contact volunteer coordinator Jennifer Pockoski at 617-445-7777 or [email protected].
Since opening in 1990, the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, the nation’s first and largest veteran-specific homeless shelter, has provided aid to more than 12,000 veterans. The shelter seeks volunteers for a variety of tasks, including serving meals, administrative duties, and tutoring. For more information, contact the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans at 617-371-1800 or [email protected].
Little Brothers–Friends of the Elderly is a national nonprofit, volunteer-based organization committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly. On major holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter — volunteers provide companionship and deliver nutritious meals, food packages, and flowers to the elderly. Volunteers also serve as hosts, cooks, and drivers for holiday parties held at the Little Brothers’ house in Jamaica Plain. For more information, contact volunteer coordinator Mindy Newman at 617-524-8882.
A shelter for poor and homeless women, Rosie’s Place opened in 1974 to help women maintain their dignity, seek opportunity, and find security in their lives. The shelter serves women as young as 18 and as old as 80, and about a third of its guests have children. Volunteers work in every department and annually donate what would be the work of 21 full-time staff members. Volunteer opportunities are available in the kitchen, clothing room, food pantry, classroom, and more. For more information, contact Rosie’s Place at 617-442-9322.
Vicky Waltz can be reached at [email protected].
“Giving Thanks, and Time, Year-Round” originally ran on BU Today on November 22, 2006.
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Anti-spam solutions are gaining visibility these days as big name vendors start to make more of a splash. Trend Micro issued an anti-spam announcement this month and Computer Associates (CA), Symantec, and Network Associates are expected to follow in the near future with announcements of their own.
Most commercial products actually on the market, though, are still from smaller, specialized start-ups. Meanwhile, some administrators are trying to save money for their organizations by turning to free solutions. A couple of years from now, will you still be relying on the same anti-spam strategy you’re using today?
Quite possibly not. By then, spam will have undoubtedly become an even larger problem than it is today. According to a recent survey by Symantec, 37 percent of respondents already receive more than 100 spam messages each week at work and at home.
Drawn by the beacon of customer demand in a bleak economy, major commercial vendors are hitting the market from a number of different angles, typically with new or enhanced “converged” products that combine spam fighting capabilities with antivirus or Web page filtering or both, while smaller vendors are striving to make a mark with unique bells-and-whistles like honeypots, collaborative filtering, and “e-mail challenges.”
Features Trickling Up from Freeware
In fact, some of the technologies now showing up in commercial products and services have trickled their way up from freeware counterparts. For instance, Vipul’s Razor, a free collaborative network for spam detection and filtering, forms the basis for Cloudmark’s commercial product.
Even if you’re unable or unwilling to spend a dime, there are countless anti-spam tools to choose from. Aside from SpamAssassin, a multi-featured anti-spam gateway written in Perl, popular freeware tools include Groovy Blackhole, a free spam and virus filter for all major SMTP servers, and SMTPblock, a tool for detecting SMTP relays on Unix /Linux servers, for example.
If you have money in your budget, the possibilities open up even more, although many of the new commercial offerings are only a few months old and others haven’t even left the gates yet.
This month, antivirus maven Trend Micro unveiled Spam Prevention Service (SPS), a subscription-based service that integrates anti-spam logic from Postini. Already shipping for Sun Solaris servers, SPS is expected to become available for Microsoft Windows by May and for Linux by June.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, Network Associates — the producer of McAfee antiviral software — purchased anti-spam maker Deersoft, with integrated products expected to follow shortly. New anti-spam offerings are reportedly under development at Symantec and Computer Associates as well.
CA’s upcoming product, eTrust Content Control, is now in beta. The new software initially combines e-mail and Web page scanning, but CA is considering integrating anti-viral capabilities in the future, too, says Ian Hameroff, CA’s security strategist. (One of the existing members of CA’s eTrust family is eTrust AntiVirus.)
A Web page scanning specialist called SurfControl has jumped into anti-spam and anti-viral filtering for e-mail. In terms of shipping products, SurfControl is currently “the only company with credible solutions for both e-mail and Web scanning,” according to Maureen Grey, research analyst at the GartnerGroup.
“Although the rules-crafting language and management tools are consistent, these are still two distinct products,” the Gartner analyst added.
Page 2: Bigger Plans Ahead
Magic Leap Goggles
We have seen some things. Oh my, have we seen some things.
Year-end wrap-ups are the best. We get to sit here in our new holiday pajamas and dish out harsh judgments on everything that happened during the past spin ‘round the sun. Interestingly, though, the end of 2023 doesn’t look all that different from the beginning. Smart home stuff is still popular, social media emotions still fluctuate wildly between “ooh, fun!” and “ooh, scary!” and nobody cares about fidget spinners.
So, before we roll into 2023, let’s take a look back at all the stuff that happened in the tech world since the last time they dropped the ball in Time Square.Best of What’s New
If you want a look at the best new tech from this year, you should check out our 2023 Best of What’s New selections. It’s a collection of important and influential new products and technologies that came into the world in the last 12 months or so. It’s a great way to see promising new tech, free from all the negative stuff that also happened.Fidget Spinners came and went
Google Trends: Fidget Spinners
Here, you can see the Google Trends graphs for “fidget spinner” (blue), as it compares to “Samsung Galaxy S8” (yellow), and “chicken fingers” (red), which apparently didn’t have a great year.
The Google Trends report—a graph showing how many people were searching for any given topic at any given time—for fidget spinners is fascinating. At the beginning of the year, these plastic toys registered a zero, but by the first week in April, the score was pinned to 100. It was a meteoric rise for a truly useless product. Now, the score sits around 3. The age of the fidget spinner ended as quickly as it began, leaving the toys relegated to their bargain bin coffins.Net Neutrality died
The FCC voted to repeal 2023 regulations that classified the internet as a utility, meaning it should be equally accessible for all people. We won’t know for some time how this will actually affect the Web as we know it, but it opens up the door for internet service providers to start making crucial decisions about who gets access to what content and services. Get your wallets ready.Augmented reality got more interesting (and less depressing than actual reality)
Ikea Place iPhone App
Digital chairs were all the rage in 2023.
We spent a lot of time this year fussing around with virtual furniture in our real-world spaces thanks to Apple’s augmented reality ARKit. Microsoft also bet big on AR by integrating its Mixed Reality tech into just about every device running Windows 10l. We even got to see the wonderfully ridiculous Magic Leap AR glasses for the first time after literally years of hype. Expect a lot of digital creatures—and probably also more couches—in your future.WannaCry HQ trivia happened
The top app charts are still dominated by social media, smart assistants, and addicting games, but a live game show app made one of the biggest, loudest splashes. The app started earlier this year, but now gets hundreds of thousands of viewers during each one of its live shows, which happen twice each weekday and once a day on weekends. The show has had some hiccups, including its unnecessarily toxic live chat, but it’s carrying a lot of momentum into 2023. We’ll see if it fares better than QuizUp, another trivia app that raised tens of millions of dollars four years ago, only to lose most of its users and sell for a bargain-basement price.AIM died
AOL Instant Messenger played a very important role in the formative years of many internet users, myself included. It was everywhere from college dorms to workplaces, and its away message function was the prototype for the eventual rise of social media—in which we have to type everything we think and feel into a text box that our friends can see and react to. Now, AIM is officially dead. I tried logging into my account before it was shut down, but I couldn’t remember the password. RIP, AIM. My 17-year-old self will truly miss you.Bitcoin got expensive. Then it got cheaper. Now it’s kind of expensive again.
At the beginning of the year, a single Bitcoin was worth roughly $1,000. By the end of 2023, one Bitcoin is worth approximately $15,000. Of course, it might be zero tomorrow, or it could be $100,000 and all those who got in early will be driving around in yachts with the word “blockchain” written on the back. There’s no telling, really.Tesla birthed a bunch of new vehicles
AMD came roaring back
With the release of its Ryzen processor products, AMD rose up to take on Intel’s position of CPU dominance in the PC world. Even if you’re not a total computer game geek, the competition is good if you plan on buying a new computer any time soon.PUBG PC
This is a good place to pull your parachute if you want to float around for ten minutes and then die right when you land.
The biggest PC gaming hit of the year was Player Unknown’s Battleground, a multi-player free-for-all shooter that drops 40 players on an island where only one player can emerge victorious. The learning curve is relatively steep and the potential for mayhem is high, but the game crossed 30 million active players on PC alone before it got a port over to the Xbox One earlier this December. If you’re a player, you may have seen me crawling around in the fields, hoping to go unnoticed until I die anticlimactically.Switch saved Nintendo
Both Sony and Xbox unleashed powerful new consoles this year, but it was Nintendo that dominated the living-room. With its portable playability and an arsenal of really excellent first-party games—including the best game of the year, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild—the Switch was the most fun gadget to happen this year.HDR became really important Homes got smarter
Google Home Max speaker
The Google Home Max is the most powerful smart home assistant speaker around, at least for now.
We won’t know exactly how many smart home devices sold in 2023 until this year is in our rearview mirror, but Amazon says it sold “tens of millions” of Echos during the holiday season alone. Google doesn’t share its sales numbers, but with the Google Home Mini matching the Echo Dot’s $30 price point at most major retailers, it’s a fair assumption that they sold a bunch of them. The notable exception in the smart home boom is Apple, which missed its 2023 shipping window for the upcoming HomePod speaker, now slated for early 2023.iPhone X
While Apple had trouble on the HomePod front, it also released the most-notable smartphone of the year. The iPhone X made waves with its FaceID unlocking tech as well as its $1,000 price tag. Real talk: Phones aren’t that much different at the end of 2023 than they were at its beginning.Twitter grew up, literally Equifax leaked your info
Remember when one of the world’s biggest credit agencies gave up a bunch of crucial personal info on people who had never even actively engaged with the company as customers? That sure was fun.Drones were kinda boring
This tiny drone from DJI can understand hand gestures, which is cool, even if it’s not all that practical.
DJI unleashed its adorable Spark drone in 2023, but not a lot has changed in the space when it comes to hardware. We did get some confusing drone legislation though. In May, the government repealed the requirement for drone pilots to register their crafts when used recreationally. Then, in December the regulation came back. Not confusing at all.The year in cameras
As a photographer and camera writer, this segment of the market remains close to my heart and, despite the continued dominance of smartphone shooting, cameras actually made a small sales comeback in 2023. Compact camera sales are still off the proverbial cliff, but both mirrorless cameras and DSLOK, that’s it for 2023. Alexa, set an alarm for 2023.
Usually, I avoid making predictions. However, increasingly, I believe that the sleeper trend of 2014 will be free-licensed hardware — and that its availability could transform free and open source software (FOSS) as well as hardware manufacturing.
Meanwhile, the newly founded MakePlayLive is developing the KDE-based Vivaldi tablet, and has released the Improv engineering board to help small developers bring their product to market. Almost certainly, others are flying under the radar.
Having FOSS on commercial devices is hardly new, of course. As Jim Zemlin, the executive director of The Linux Foundation, is fond of pointing out, Linux increasingly runs the hardware of our daily lives.
What makes these efforts different is that they are not simply cases of corporations using FOSS to speed development and shorten time to market. Instead, to varying degrees, they represent the new trend of community projects starting to manufacture hardware and entering the commercial market.
For some, the trend is a small step. Ubuntu has always been dominated by its commercial arm Canonical, while the size of Mozilla has often made it seem as much a corporation as a community.
But for others, the trend means combining the community and the commercial in a way unimagined since the idealistic days of The Cluetrain Manifesto. It not only means making devices that are as free-licensed as possible, but also attempting to graft FOSS ethics on to business. Make PlayLive, for example, sees itself as a “cooperative brand” much like a FOSS project, consisting of a group of individuals who pool their skills to accomplish what they could never do by themselves.Transformative Works
Many of these efforts are going to fail — not necessarily because they are flawed, but because most new manufacturing ventures fail. Manufacturers and distributors of computerized hardware are intensely conservative, and newcomers without a record of success have trouble gaining footholds. Even when they do strike deals, their products are often not promoted with the same enthusiasm as products that are the clones of popular devices.
Many, too, are entering saturated markets. Often, one effort at free hardware will be competing against others.
All the same, the very effort to create free hardware is likely to reverberate through the FOSS community. For one thing, the effort means that pockets of the community are going to have a knowledge of manufacturing that, right now, very few have. Simply by trying to market their devices, participants are going to shed the naive suspicion of business that is still a feature of many parts of FOSS community and replace it with practical, firsthand experience.
Such experience can hardly help but change the way participants interact with companies like Google or IBM, for whom FOSS is primarily one strategy among many. The community will gain negotiating strength simply by being better informed and better able to assess announcements and events. It will be able to look after its own interests better.
Furthermore, if some of this community-based capitalism succeeds, the effects will be even greater. As the number of people involved simultaneously with the community and commercial efforts increases, new roles and relationships emerge. It already sounds, for instance, as though MakePlayLive is reinventing the idea of the cooperative.
But what happens if free hardware becomes a priority for dozens of small manufacturers over the next decade? Then, slowly, free hardware gains a voice in the industry, and perhaps manufacturers rethink proprietary firmware, and completely free devices become a market choice.
Yes, the idea is quixotic, even absurd. But so was free software once, and now it is a serious alternative.
The way events are shaping, 2014 could become the start of all these changes, to say nothing of others that we can’t foresee. Win or lose, these efforts at open hardware promise to renew the idealism and plans for world domination that are FOSS at its best.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
While all large and successful organizations have already gone through significant digital transformation, 2023 may be the year that small and medium-sized businesses dive in headfirst. Are you ready to join the fold by embracing the next iteration of the business world?What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation has been called a lot of things over the years. And while some would argue that it’s nothing more than a buzzword, those who are involved with it know that it’s more than conceptual. When executed with vision and precision, it can revolutionize a business from the inside out.
Greater efficiency. Think about the bottlenecks in your business – the things that slow down processes, frustrate employees, and prevent you from reaching your full potential. In many cases, technology is involved. And if we dig a layer deeper, we’ll find that these technologies are outdated and/or being improperly leveraged. The beauty of digital transformation is that it allows you to fight through these bottlenecks and speed up your business through greater efficiency and output.
Better decision-making. It’s not enough to have data. You need to know what to do with that data. Digital transformation ensures you’re collecting and interpreting data correctly, which allows you to improve decision-making and guide your company in a better direction.
Enhanced customer satisfaction. Research from Gartner shows that more than 81 percent of companies are competing primarily on customer experience. And as we said on the front end of this piece, digital transformation is ultimately about the customer. By enhancing customer satisfaction, businesses can cultivate loyalty and squash the competition.
Increased profitability. An impressive 56 percent of CEOs say digital improvements have helped them increase revenue in the past. And as we move forward into a world where digital transformation becomes even more integral to the health and well-being of organizations, we’ll see this number grow even more.
Superior company culture. While customers may be the focal point, digital transformation has a positive impact on employees as well. Over time, this emphasis on digital transformation fosters a superior company culture that reduces turnover by elevating retention.6 Strategies for Seamless Digital Transformation
Digital transformation does not happen overnight. It takes years and months of appropriate planning and careful implementation. But, you may start experiencing positive results almost instantly. Here are a Couple of Pointers to Help you Do Precisely That:1. Gain Top-Down Buy-In
There’s not any digital transformation with no comprehensive buy-in from most organizational stakeholders. And more especially, you have to start the procedure with buy in the C-suite.2. Assign a Point Person
Do not be tricked into believing you could roll out a whole digital transformation approach using a hodgepodge group of men and women who have their hands in a dozen additional duties and obligations. If you would like to be effective with your strategy, you ought to find somebody who can guide the way. This may seem like employing a new man for your occupation or reassigning a person. In any situation, make certain to practice discernment.
There are a couple of important features to search for, such as an extensive comprehension of the digital market, in addition to a character that is conducive to building rapport and transferring others to action.
“They need to comprehend the effects of a brand new business model.
Also read: 10 Best Saas Marketing Tools And Platforms For 20233. Establish Clear Vision
Your”point person” will be responsible for helping to explain and communicate the vision to your electronic transformation strategy. It is more important your eyesight is comprehensive than tricky. It ought to be a holistic however specific notion that believes every part of the business.
Budget and operational costs
Your eyesight basically amounts to an electronic roadmap for your future. It clarifies where you are going and which elements of your company the plan will touch. (Which ought to wind up being each section, component, and strength.)4. Evaluate Current Gaps
Have a look at your present tech stack/processes and contrast this within which you wish to be in six months, annually, or 3 years from today. Consider where you will find chances to pivot and enhance, in addition to where you are coming up short. These are your own gaps.
Technological and process-based openings are where the chances for important digital transformation exist. You have to rethink your strategy to specific regions of your plan — such as sales and marketing — and envision what these regions could seem like in a perfect universe.
Also read: 9 Best Cybersecurity Companies in the World5. Set the Appropriate KPIs
Setting KPIs starts with figuring out what you would like to quantify and then building out there. If by way of instance, you’re trying to assess the achievement of a new program that you are presenting to a user base, very good KPIs would comprise daily busy customers, the ratio of replicate to new customers, conversion prices, abandon rates, and average time spent on an app.
Is your wish to rate customer experience according to a brand new onboarding process or customer loyalty program? Metrics like client satisfaction (CSAT), client attempt score (CES), client loyalty index (CLI), and opinion analytics are enlightening.
User participation is really a fun one to monitor. You’ve got choices like net promoter score (NPS), traffic resources, client satisfaction indicator, bounce rate, and departure speed.
Other large-scale KPIs that touch different facets include worker performance, innovation, operational functionality, and financial performance.6. Beware of the Shine
Also read: Top 6 Tips to Stay Focused on Your Financial GoalsWhere is Your Focus?
Every digital transformation strategy will have a unique flavor. And while it’ll look a bit different in execution and application, many of the same underlying principles are present across the board. For best results, study what others are doing and view their approaches through the lens of your customer and your business. Your roadmap lies somewhere inside these lines.
8 Major Findings and Headlines from BU CTE Researchers in the Past Year Experts have made breakthroughs on diagnosing CTE in the living, and in studying the impact of college football on the brain, pro football’s link to ALS, and the risk of additional years of playing ice hockey
Photo by Gene Gallin/Unsplash
CTE in Sports8 Major Findings and Headlines from BU CTE Researchers in the Past Year Experts have made breakthroughs on diagnosing CTE in the living and in studying the impact of college football on the brain, pro football’s link to ALS, and the risk of additional years of playing ice hockey
After 15 years of research into the toll of repeated head traumas on the brain, especially among athletes, Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center has changed the conversation around contact sports—and shifted the viewing experience for many fans. The center is a national leader in the study of CTE, a progressive degenerative brain disease, and its work—particularly on diagnosing star players like 49er Greg Clark and Canadien Ralph Backstrom—has made news worldwide. CTE has been linked to multiple symptomatic concussions and asymptomatic subconcussive blows to the head; it’s been found in military veterans, as well as in former sportspeople.
The center is home to the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, which holds more than 1,250 brains for study and is billed as “the largest tissue repository in the world focused on traumatic brain injury and CTE.” Thanks to that library, BU researchers have found CTE—which can currently be diagnosed only after death—in more than 90 percent of former NFL players studied and shown CTE risk doubles after just three years of football.1. MRI Could Help Diagnose CTE in the Living
There’s no way to diagnose CTE when someone is alive. A patient and their doctors might make some best guesses—if, say, a former footballer renowned for big tackles is now struggling with confusion and anxiety—but confirmation comes only after death. In December 2023, BU researchers revealed that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) might have the potential to change that and help spot CTE in the living.
They reviewed MRI images of the brains of 55 men who were diagnosed with CTE postmortem—but who’d been scanned while alive—and spotted shrinkage in the brain that didn’t show up in healthy male controls with normal cognition.
“MRI is commonly used to diagnose progressive brain diseases that are similar to CTE, such as Alzheimer’s disease,” says Michael Alosco, a BU School of Medicine assistant professor of neurology and CTE Center lead investigator. “Findings from this study show us what we can expect to see on MRI in CTE. This is very exciting because it brings us that much closer to detecting CTE in living people.”
A second study of brain scans of former footballers also showed that white matter hyperintensities—a marker of brain injury—could be spotted using MRI.
Researchers are now looking to see whether the patterns they saw in people with CTE “differentiate CTE from Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of dementia,” says Alosco.2. Memory—but Not Mood—Could Also Hold Clues to Lifetime Diagnosis
Progressive memory loss and issues with executive function, the ability to focus, follow directions, and problem-solve could all be markers that help diagnose CTE in the living. Researchers interviewed family members of 336 brain donors about their loved ones’ cognitive function in life, then evaluated the brains for CTE pathology. They found “progressive memory and executive function symptoms are particularly valuable” for predicting the presence of CTE, says Jesse Mez, a MED associate professor of neurology. Mood and behavior proved less useful.
“Our study provides doctors with information about which symptoms are most predictive of CTE pathology,” says Mez.3. College Football Players More Likely to Have Brain Disorders
The University of Notre Dame is a college football powerhouse, with 11 national championships and nearly 500 players who went on to the NFL. But a study of former Fighting Irish players who were seniors between 1964 and 1980 found a dark side to that success. The ex–college stars were five times more likely to report cognitive impairment diagnoses than their peers in the general population—and had increased mortality due to degenerative brain disease. They were also two-and-a-half times more likely to report recurrent headaches and 65 percent more likely to have cardiovascular disorders during life.
Although there were some positives for the former players—including lower rates of diabetes and a significantly smaller chance of dying from heart and respiratory disorders—researchers said the negative health consequences were concerning.
“We all loved the game that we played at Notre Dame,” says Rocky Bleier, a former Notre Dame captain and four-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers. “We just believe that the health of the game and the health of the players go hand in hand, and hope that the results of this study provide some initial answers and benefits to our teammates, as well as future players and their families at all levels of the sport.”4. Pro Footballers Have a Greater ALS Risk
Among the other life-altering—and shortening—conditions threatening retired footballers is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a rare progressive neurodegenerative disease that’s also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. A multi-institution study found NFL athletes are four times more likely to die from ALS than the general population.
According to a press release, the researchers also discovered a link between longer professional careers and increased ALS risk—those who developed the disease played an average of seven seasons, 56 percent longer than matched pro footballers who didn’t. The study included every player who debuted between 1960 and 2023 and played in at least one NFL game—close to 20,000 individuals—with diagnoses drawn from news reports and obituaries. Living players with the disease were also included in the study.
“In our brain bank, we have found a similar relationship between a longer football career and an increased risk of other neurodegenerative diseases,” says Ann McKee, director of the CTE Center. “It has become clear that years of repeated impacts to the head can cause the human brain to break down along many pathways.”5. A Lot of Bad Stuff Is Going On in the CTE-Hit Brain
Past research on CTE has concentrated on the buildup of abnormal tau—a protein—in the brain’s gray matter. But researchers have also found changes in the white matter, the part of the brain that controls the signals flying up and down the spinal cord. In a study of eight CTE-impacted brains and eight matched control brains, they discovered changes in a type of cell called oligodendrocytes that help neurons speed up their message delivery.
“There is loss of oligodendrocytes and alteration of oligodendrocyte subtypes in CTE that suggest white matter damage is important to the pathogenesis of CTE and might provide new targets for prevention and therapies,” says McKee, who is a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and a MED professor of neurology and pathology.6. Ice Hockey Players Not Immune from CTE Trouble
Photo by skynesher/iStock
Although football takes a lot of the CTE headlines, the dangers of ice hockey, with its crunching body checks and board slams, is getting increasing attention. Now, a CTE Center–led study has tied every additional year on the ice to a 23 percent increased chance of having the disorder.
In a study of 74 hockey players—from those who played at the youth level through NHL pros—researchers found more than half had CTE at the time of their death. They also discovered that each additional year of playing was linked to a 15 percent increased chance of someone progressing to the next stage of CTE. The disease has four stages—the final one includes brain shrinkage and associated dementia.
“While the absolute risk for ice hockey players of developing CTE is still unknown, it may be concerning to athletes and their families that we found each year of ice hockey play may increase the odds of developing CTE,” says Mez, who presented the findings in April at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting. “Our research may be useful for them when making informed decisions about play.”7. Ex-NFL Player Phillip Adams Had Severe CTE When He Killed Six People
In April 2023, officials in York County, S.C., were left trying to make sense of the seemingly motiveless killing of a local doctor and five others, including the doctor’s young grandchildren. The county sheriff said they were murdered by Phillip Adams, a former cornerback who’d racked up six seasons in the NFL. Adams had apparently entered the prominent doctor’s home with two pistols, later fleeing to his parents’ home, where he took his own life. At the time, his father wondered if years of football—Adams reportedly started playing at age seven—had been a factor in the violent killing spree.
“I can say he’s a good kid—he was a good kid,” Alonzo Adams told local NBC affiliate, WCNC-TV, “and I think the football messed him up.”
After his death, Adams’ brain was donated to the CTE Center. There, researchers found he had stage 2 CTE—which commonly brings symptoms like depression, mood swings, and memory loss—at the time of his death.
“Adams had an extraordinary amount of CTE pathology in the frontal lobe, the area of the brain behind the forehead. Frontal lobe damage is associated with violent, impulsive, or explosive behavior, a ‘short fuse,’ and lack of self-control,” says McKee. “His CTE pathology might have contributed to his abnormal behaviors, in addition to other physical, psychiatric, and psychosocial factors. His predominantly frontal lobe CTE pathology, which resulted in atrophy, or shrinkage, of the brain, was similar in severity to Aaron Hernandez.”8. If You Played Soccer or Football, You Can Participate in BU’s Research—No Brain Donation Necessary
Photo by simonkr/iStock
If you played soccer or tackle football—at any level, at any age—you may be eligible to enroll in a new study that aims to examine the risks for developing dementia, cognitive decline, and changes in behavior and mood later in life after playing sports. The Head Impact & Trauma Surveillance Study (HITSS) will include an online annual assessment with questions about sports participation, exposure to head impacts, behavior and mood, and concussion and medical history; it will also include memory and cognitive tests. Anyone aged over 40 can sign up online.
Ambassadors for the study include Super Bowl champion Mike Haynes and World Cup winner Brandi Chastain.
Additional reporting contributed by Julia Manning at the Concussion Legacy Foundation, Tim Sullivan at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, and Renee Tesssman and Michelle Uher at the American Academy of Neurology.
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