MLS: Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) diagnosed in Scott Vermillion

Researchers have diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) for the first time in a former MLS player, saying on Tuesday that defender Scott Vermillion has the degenerative brain disease.

The Boston University CTE Center said Vermillion, who died of an accidental drug overdose in December 2020 at the age of 44, had the disease. Although it is impossible to link an individual case to a cause, CTE has been linked to repeated blows to the head.

CTE has been found in more than 100 former NFL players as well as semi-professional and school football players. Vermillion, who played for the Kansas City Wizards, Colorado Rapids and DC United, is the first in MLS.

« Mr. Vermillion showed us that soccer players are at risk for CTE, » said Dr. Ann McKee, director of the BU CTE Center. We must make every effort to identify players who are in pain and provide them with appropriate medical care and support. »

Vermillion started playing soccer at the age of 5 and continued for 22 years, playing four seasons in MLS. He also played for the United States at the Under-17 World Championship in 1993 and made a few appearances for the Under-20 side in 1996.

After retiring in 2001 with an ankle injury, according to his family, he became depressed and had problems with impulse control and aggression. Eventually, he suffered from memory loss and developed a substance abuse problem.

All have been associated with CTE, which has been linked to concussions or subconcussive blows in athletes, veterans, and others who experience repeated head injuries.

« This disease is destroying families, not just families of soccer players, » said Vermillion’s father, Dave Vermillion. We hope this will be a wake-up call for the soccer community to support former players and provide them with the help they need, so that some good can come out of this tragedy. »

The MLS Players’ Association has called on the league to break with the sport’s international governing bodies and pass a rule expanding substitutions to allow players with concussions.

“We must not sit idly by and wait for them to do the right thing. MLS should unilaterally adopt a full concussion substitution rule immediately, the union said in a statement. Current substitution rules do not allow enough time for medical professionals to properly diagnose potential concussions without putting a team at a substantial competitive disadvantage. »

MLS chief medical officer Margot Putukian said the league has « comprehensive policies to educate players, coaches, officials and medical staff on the importance of identifying head injuries, early warning and treatment”.

« MLS is a leader in the sport, championing and piloting FIFA’s concussion replacement program, implementing a medical screening program to identify potential head injuries and removing any player suspected of a concussion from play. head injury for evaluation, Putukian said. There is always more to be done, and MLS is firmly committed to this important work. »

Lakeoncussion Legacy Foundation called for rules that would limit tackles and headers in soccer to children over the age of 14. CLF co-founder Chris Nowinski said dementia was already linked to repetitive headaches among professional players in Britain.

« It’s time for the global soccer community to have a real conversation about the head, especially in the youth game, » Nowinski said. We urgently need to investigate the extent of this crisis in amateur soccer and immediately put in place reforms to prevent CTE in the next generation. »

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