Posted by Wes Baumann
There were 29 Rotarians in attendance at this week’s meeting.  Todd Stephens brought Connie Gutierrez as his guest.
It was announced that at the last Board meeting it was decided to increase the club’s dues by $5 per quarter.  The club was running slightly in the red so it is hoped that this modest increase will close the gap in the deficit. The new dues will begin with the new quarter this October.  There was a reminder of the reception here at the Community House tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. for Robert Mardirossian’s retirement from the Counseling Center of the North Shore.  Rich Lalley announced that Operation Warn is gearing up for the fall/winter campaign to raise funds to give new coats to children in need.  He said that two events are being planned to give coats at two south side Chicago Public Libraries.  Joe Nash announced that he and Greg Nelson will be guest bartenders at Little Ricky’s on October 12th from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. to raise funds for Operation Warm.  He said that there would be great live music that evening.  Generous tips will be warmly welcomed.
Happy Buck$ this week came from Robert Mardirossian and John Stone.   Greg Nelson gave the club a great laugh with his Dig n Grin.
Program chair David Birkenstein introduced our speaker, Jim Proebstle, who was making his second appearance at our club.  He spoke about his new (third) book, Unintended Impact, which was the story about his older brother who developed Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) dementia as a result of numerous concussions playing high school and college football.  Jim and his brother, Dick, both played football in northeast Ohio, a hotbed for the sport.  They both played the game at Michigan State University, where Dick was a quarterback and Jim was a lineman.  Jim was a tight end on the National Champion Spartans in 1965.
His presentation was part history of his brother and mostly about the devastation that can be wreaked as a result of a collision sport like football.  Millions of high school and college athletes have been exposed to multiple concussions while playing sports such as football, soccer, lacrosse, hockey and wrestling.  However, it is the professional athletes who have suffered CTE related dementia that receives the publicity.  CTE is also common in the military as a result of ‘blast concussions.’  CTE comes from repetitive jarring of the head that is a natural part of some sports.  While CTE dementia and Alzheimer dementia have some similarities CTE patients will exhibit signs of trouble at an earlier age.  In the case of CTE dementia the brain shrinks.  His brother’s brain, which was donated to Boston University’s Alzheimer’s Disease and CTE Center, was 25% smaller than normal.
Long before it was determined that Dick was suffering from CTE he began to have balance issues and some memory problems.  That was followed by signs of disinhibited behavior, loss of mathematical and problem-solving skills as well as paranoia.  He had been a very successful businessman amassing a small fortune but his CTE destroyed all of that as well as his marriage.  Late in his life it was discovered why he had changed so much and that was a relief to his family as it explained the subtle changes that had been taking place over the previous 20 years.  Jim’s brother died in 2012 a month shy of his 68th birthday.
Jim was not a proponent of ending the game of football as he said the safety in the sport has evolved for the better over the years.  Every state has a concussion protocol policy on the books and it is enforced to varying degrees, mostly determined by the individual schools.  Also, many jarring hits do not always result in a concussion but may still affect the brain.  He feels that full contact football should not be played until high school.  While CTE affects athletes in other impact sports, it has gained notoriety from professional football and the $765 million dollar settlement for victims of CTE dementia in the NFL.