Of the studied brains of deceased football players, 99 percent showed signs.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a relatively new diagnosis, but it is already a plague upon the National Football League. A new study published in the medical journal JAMA reports that of the 111 brains of deceased NFL players that were studied, 110 showed signs of the neurodegenerative brain disease.
CTE is a result of exposure to repeated head trauma and is impossible to diagnose formally without an autopsy. Repeatedly sustaining minor concussions can cause a buildup of abnormal tau protein, which can disable neural pathways. Symptoms include difficulty thinking, impulsive behavior, depression, short-term memory loss, emotional instability, and even suicidal thoughts.
CNN reports the NFL is taking this study seriously:
“The medical and scientific communities will benefit from this publication and the NFL will continue to work with a wide range of experts to improve the health of current and former NFL athletes,” the NFL told CNN in a statement, noting that “there are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE.”
In January, the New York Times published a story about a player whose mouth guard was equipped with a motion sensor during a football game. The recorded data showed that this player sustained 62 hits in one game.
In this chart, we show the G-force data from just 10 of the 62 hits this offensive lineman accrued in a single game. The average G-force, 25.8, is roughly equivalent to what we would see if the offensive lineman crashed his car into a wall going about 30 m.p.h. And remember: that was 62 times in a single game. Hits of this magnitude can happen hundreds, if not thousands, of times to college and N.F.L. players during practices and games throughout their careers.
Medical researchers and the NFL are still searching for an effective way to limit the risk of injury without compromising the game.
While many think of CTE as a generally male problem, women who play sports, are in the military, or are victims of violence are just as susceptible.