What We Can Learn from Studying Former NFL Players Brains
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What We Can Learn from Studying Former NFL Players Brains

Friday, February 09, 2018By Nina Shapirshteyn

The largest study on degenerative brain disease and contact sports is sparking concerns about the long-term effects of participation in contact sports. And this new report goes beyond warning against the dangers of playing professional football. It also highlights the issues facing youth sports where early head trauma can be especially damaging.

The study, conducted by Boston University, made an astounding finding. Eighty seven percent of the 202 brains of deceased football players showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Of this group, 111 had played for the NFL and only one was not diagnosed with CTE. The data draws important conclusions that can be helpful in making recommendations for players in contact sports.

What is CTE?

CTE is a degenerative brain condition found in people who have suffered brain trauma multiple times. In biological terms, a protein forms into clumps and spreads in the brain. This protein kills brain cells and leads to a variety of mental, psychological and physical symptoms. But these symptoms do not appear until years after the head trauma has occurred. Some of the initial problems associated with CTE include impulse control issues, violence, substance abuse, and depression. Later on, victims report loss of memory, impaired judgment, and signs of dementia.

Major Findings

In the study 87% of the brains were found to have the hallmark abnormalities of CTE. The average career for the players in this group was 15 years. For those diagnosed with mild CTE, suicide was the most common cause of death. For those diagnosed with severe CTE, degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease were the leading causes of death. NFL players were not the only football players in the study. Those who played in college and semi-professional leagues were also included. The majority of those samples also showed signs of CTE.

While these numbers are concerning, the researchers acknowledged that these findings do not indicate that anyone who has played football will develop CTE. Another cautionary note - the data is known as a “convenience sample.” This means that the subjects were donated by families who had noted symptoms that worsened over time. These families assumed that traumatic impacts had caused their family members to develop CTE and eventually die.

What Can We Take Away from the Study?

There are some facts that we do know that can help minimize these kinds of brain injuries. According to the research, there is evidence that the younger you are when you suffer an impact to the brain, the more damaging the result. So delaying participation in contact sports may be helpful. Most importantly, once a player has been hit, it is vital that he leaves the game to allow his brain to recover.

If you or a member of your family has been affected by a brain injury, contact Alexander Law Group, LLC. Our exceptional personal injury lawyers will be sure you get the maximum compensation possible. Call 888.777.1776, or contact us online.

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