Most U.S. Pro Football Players Suffer Severe Neurodegenerative Disease, NFL Study Reveals

Most U.S. Pro Football Players Suffer Severe Neurodegenerative Disease, NFL Study Reveals
National Football League athletes might be at increased risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain condition linked to dementia and abnormal behavior. A recent study published in JAMA found that 87 percent of investigated players had signs of brain damage after death. Dementia was diagnosed in 85 percent of those with severe CTE, 32 percent of whom also had a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. But although the study, “Clinicopathological Evaluation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Players of American Football,” provides a strong case linking brain damage and disease with football, researchers cautioned that the players investigated might not be representative of U.S. football players in general. The participants had all voluntarily donated their brains to research, and since all those diagnosed with CTE after death had shown symptoms while alive, the Boston University School of Medicine research team figured that disease awareness might have spurred their participation in the research. The brain bank included people who had been exposed to head trauma, and playing American football was sufficient to be included. The team examined the brains of 202 deceased football players, and found signs of CTE in 177 of them. CTE is a condition characterized by cognitive difficulties and behavioral abnormalities such as depression or aggressive behavior. Researchers found brain changes all but one of the 111 NFL athletes examined. Only those who had played in high school had mild disease. The remaining players, including those who played in college, had severe CTE — and of those
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