Researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University have recently released the results of a $1 million study, paid for by the NFL, conducted on the brains of deceased professional football players. The study identified chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 96 percent of NFL players’ brains examined, indicating that there is a link between football and long-term brain disease. Overall, the study found CTE in the brains of 79 percent of the deceased football players tested, including those who played at only the high school or college level.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a progressive, degenerative disease which currently can only be definitively diagnosed postmortem. CTE occurs when an individual receives blows to the head over a period of time, causing progressive damage to the nerve cells in the brain. The condition has serious side effects, including memory loss, impaired judgment, depression, and dementia.
The results of this study support the results of previous studies, stating that it is not the rare, violent head trauma that causes players to experience this kind of brain damage; rather it is the frequent, minor blows that have the long term effects. The injuries that result in CTE cause abnormal accumulations of proteins in the brain, interfering in the cell-to-cell communication and altering the white matter of the brain. The researchers found that 40 percent of the football players studied who had CTE were offensive or defensive linemen, a position that experiences collision and physical contact on every play.
Many NFL players have taken legal action against the league for injuries they experienced that have had long term health effects. In April, the NFL reached a settlement of $1 billion to resolve these cases in a class action lawsuit involving the former players. In response to the results of this recent study, the NFL released this statement, “We are dedicated to making football safer and continue to take steps to protect players, including rule changes, advanced sideline technology, and expanded medical resources. We continue to make significant investments in independent research through our gifts to Boston University, the National Institutes of Health, and other efforts to accelerate the science and understanding of these issues.”
If you wish to learn more about the risks of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy as a result of playing sports, such as football and soccer, contact the Louisville, Kentucky brain injury lawyers at Thomas Law Offices for more information.