Researchers found that a degenerative brain disease was presented in almost a hundred percent of a group of deceased NFL players’ brains that were donated to science. This head disease, which doctors can only diagnose through an autopsy, is called chronic traumatic encephalopathy but is also known as CTE.
This brain disease can be found in people who have suffered many head traumas in their lives, mostly football players of all ages. According to the study published in the medical journal JAMA, CTE produces memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, aggression, depression, anxiety, impulse control issues and sometimes suicidal behavior.
When the families donated the football player’s brains, researchers at Boston University and the VA Boston Healthcare System realized about the dangerous patron. This facility has the world’s largest brain bank focusing on traumatic brain injury and CTE.
“There’s no question that there’s a problem in football. Those people who play football are at risk for this disease,” said Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University’s CTE Center and co-author of the new study. “And we urgently need to find answers for not just football players, but veterans and other individuals exposed to head trauma.”
However, some scientists believe genes affect the development of this disease. Not all people who develop CTE are football players, and not all football players develop CTE. Some of them never develop the head trauma, no matter how many knocks they receive in their heads. According to the scientists, it might also influence the lifestyle habits, like their diets, and alcohol and drug consumption.
The study that shocked the NFL and fans
One of the primary conditions to conduct this study was that every donated brain had to be a football player’s, making this activity as the first reason why these people had many head traumas. This JAMA study is the largest of its kind.
202 donated brains were examined, all of them from deceased former football players. However, not all of them were from professional players, but also from high school and college-players. Scientists diagnosed CTE in 177 of these brains: 110 out of 111 were from former NFL players, 3 out of 14 high school players, and 48 out of 53 college players.
Some of them were brains from professional football players who openly talked about their condition, including Ken Stabler, Kevin Turner, Bubba Smith and Dave Duerson.
“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. I also said that “there are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE.”
This is not the first time the NFL talks about this matter. In 2016, the National Football League publicly acknowledged an association between football and CTE. The year before, a federal judge approved a lawsuit that makes the NLF assured $5 million for every player’s retirement to cover serious medical conditions associated with repeated head trauma.