(CNN) – “Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE, was found in 99% of deceased NFL players’ brains that were donated to scientific research, according to a study published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA.
The neurodegenerative brain disease can be found in individuals who have been exposed to repeated head trauma. The disease is pathologically marked by a buildup of abnormal tau protein in the brain that can disable neuropathways and lead to a variety of clinical symptoms. These include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, aggression, depression, anxiety, impulse control issues and sometimes suicidal behavior.
Out of 202 deceased former football players total — a combination of high school, college and professional players — CTE was neuropathologically diagnosed in 177, the study said. The disease was identified in 110 out of 111 former NFL players. It was also found in three of the 14 high school players and 48 of the 53 college players.”
Out of 111 former NFL players, 110 of them were diagnosed with CTE. That’s a staggeringly high number, and no matter how hard you try to deny it, concussions and repeated head trauma in contact sports have repercussions (this is kind of a pun, right?).
The way I look at it is this, yes – at a professional level, athletes have fully committed and acknowledged the fact that they will be deteriorating their bodies for the love and passion of the sport. Plus, it also doesn’t hurt as bad when you have millions of dollars flowing into your bank account on a yearly basis. One would also assume these athletes have access to the most state-of-the-art health clinics and physicians to make sure all of their anatomy checks out. But throughout time we still haven’t been able to figure out a more protective method to keeping brain diseases at bay?
I repeat, 99% of studies in deceased NFL player’s brains check out for CTE, which very well could be because of selection bias, but if you’re like me and have seen the movie Concussion, I wouldn’t question it. And the fact that the NFL had been passing it off and not acknowledging the connection between the two has always been a shady and greedy look to me.
Thinking out loud here, but why hasn’t the billions of dollars the NFL rakes in yearly gone towards efforts in protecting and enhancing the equipment for these players, and not just the long-term studies? If the safety of their players is that high of a priority for the League, a more immediate action should have been done by now, right? It’s unfortunate that this disease can only be diagnosed after death but that should be the sign that implementing something more immediate would be better than nothing. Who knows when and at what age this disease can actually start at?
Here’s me going dad mode but as more and more research comes out, if I had a kid, I’d be overly concerned about having my child play the sport. I’m certainly not at that point in my life but it’s just things to take into consideration. Football is one of America’s greatest sports – I love it. Leagues from pop warner to collegiate to the NFL need to step up and start executing change in their procedures for player safety. More specifically, starting with the equipment.
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