New Study Shows Incidence of CTE in Professional Football Players


New Study Shows Incidence of CTE in Professional Football Players

I’m Ed Smith, a Berkeley brain injury lawyer. A new study done by researchers in Boston, documents the correlation between playing for the NFL and the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This development will help determine the true incidence of the disorder in a football community.

The Study

This study was done by Boston University in conjunction with the Boston VA. Researchers examined 202 brains donated by families of football players who played the sport at all levels from high school to college and pro ball. When tested for CTE, it was found in 87 percent. This shows the commonality of the disorder among football players. Since the brains were from different playing levels, it gave the researchers the chance to see if certain groups had a higher incidence.

The Incidence of CTE

Out of 202 brains used in the study, 177 had CTE. Of that number, 111 belonged to NFL players with 15 years average playing time. From that group, all but one had CTE. Fourteen of the brains belonged to high school football players, and three of these were diagnosed with CTE. In addition, out of 53 college football players, 48 were positive for CTE. Nine out of 14 players who competed in semi-professional football showed signs of the disease. This indicates that the higher the level of play, the greater the chance of having CTE. Further, high school and college players may developed CTE without ever being diagnost if medical doctors are unaware that the person played football, which is a risk factor.

Donations for the Study

A researcher who has been involved in CTE diagnosis said that the majority of the brains were donated by family members of former NFL players who began to exhibit signs of CTE. She went on to say that families will donate the brains of loved ones who died after showing symptoms such as suicide or becoming disabled. The volunteer donation of the sample can allude to a potential selection bias within the study. This does not discount the findings of the study, just a general application of the findings to a more general population.

What Is CTE?

CTE is a degenerative brain disease suffered by those who have repeated head injuries such as football players, stunt men and women and those in the military. This disease is also being examined in those who have been subjected to domestic abuse. The repeated head injuries cause a brain protein called tau to form. The formation of tau clumps destroy brain cells.

As a result of brain cell destruction, the brain atrophies or shrinks in certain areas, namely the frontal lobes and areas of the temporal lobes. Other parts of the brain are enlarged such as the lateral ventricle. Tell tale physical attributes in the brain are also manifested. As the disease progresses, more brain areas atrophy such as the hippocampus, a center of emotion and memory. When examined under a microscope, tau tangles form, which are made up of other brain cells such as glial cells.

Symptoms Associated with CTE

Symptoms of repeated brain injuries are similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease, affecting muscle strength and balance. Although a preliminary diagnosis of CTE can be made based on history and tests, a final diagnosis is made after death by examining the brain of an individual.

Berkeley Brain Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Berkeley brain injury lawyer. If you or your family member has suffered a brain injury because of another person’s negligence or the negligence of another entity, please call to talk to me at (510) 631-0200. My advice to you is free and friendly. (800) 404-5400 is my toll-free number.

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