WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Physician, forensic pathologist and neuropathologist Bennet Omalu is credited with identifying chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease afflicting many former NFL players. The disease has changed the conversation about head trauma and football.
“When you suffer a concussion you suffer three injuries, you suffer from membrane injuries, you suffer vascular injuries of your brain, and you suffer cytoskeletal injuries.” Dr. Omalu said at UNCW Wednesday.
Omalu first diagnosed CTE after performing an autopsy on former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster. He is portrayed by Oscar-nominated actor Will Smith in the film Concussion.
It’s not just affecting football players.
BMX icon Dave Mirra, who lived in Greenville and died of suicide last year, also suffered from CTE according to multiple neuropathologists.
Dr. Omalu is also concerned that people are still putting children in dangerous situations for their brains.
“So how come we know all these things in all aspects of our lives, but when it comes to sports, something that is very adrenergic, that brings out that animalistic instinct to prevail and to be dominant, we ignore science?” Dr. Omalu asked UNCW students.
He also spoke to students on what it’s like to be an American and told them to never stop being who they truly are.
“To be American is to believe that by faith, the impossible can become possible,” Dr. Omalu said. “You should not let expectations or confirmations of society, or cultures and traditions of society control your intelligence or way of thinking.You should be true to who you are and it’s okay to think outside the box.”
Tonight, Dr. Omalu is the guest speaker at UNCW’s Leadership Lecture Series.
His presentation will take place at 7:00 p.m. in the Burney Center.
It’s co-sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Students, the Center for Healthy Communities Healthcare Transformation Lecture Series in the College of Health and Human Services, and the Association for Campus Entertainment.
The Leadership Lecture Series invites participants to engage in political, cultural diversity and economic discourse and stay informed about topics that affect the world around them. In addition to the lectures, class visits and other events are planned.
Tickets are free for UNCW faculty, staff and students and $10 for the general public. They are available through Sharky’s Box Office and Game Room and may be picked up and/or purchased in the lobby the evening of the event.
Past speakers include Jerry Greenfield, half of the famous duo that created Ben & Jerry’s ice cream; veteran political strategist Donna Brazile and Piper Kerman, critically acclaimed author of memoir-turned-Netflix-series Orange is the New Black.