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CTE found in 99% of studied brains from deceased National Football League players

28 July, 2017, 00:32 | Author: Christina Hansen
  • CTE found in 99% of studied brains from deceased NFL players

CTE is an accelerated degenerative brain disease found most often in people with a history of repeated impacts to the head causing the brain to repeatedly slam into the skull, resulting in trauma to the delicate brain tissues.

This combination of photos provided by Boston University shows sections from a normal brain, left, and from the brain of former University of Texas football player Greg Ploetz, right, in stage IV of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. We now know that a significant percentage of amateur and professional athletes are likely to be suffering from CTE, largely as a result of the repeated concussions that are common in competitive sports. The disease is also often associated with a severely damage amygdala - a part of the brain that helps regulate emotional response, aggression and anxiety. "These findings suggest that CTE may be related to prior participation in football and that a high level of play may be related to substantial disease burden".

Researchers found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 110 of the 111 donated brains of players who played in the National Football League, according to the study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The brains were examined in a lab to look for neuropathological features of the very rare condition. Most worrisome, even among those who only played football in high school, almost a quarter of them tested positive for that disease. He also cited McKee's previous research, stating that she and her colleagues had diagnosed many players who died with the disease.

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The NFL, which a year ago pledged $100 million for neuromedical research, said the study would help the league and players to understand the condition. One innovative example is a collar for athletes based on the anatomy of woodpeckers, which consistently sustain blows to the head in their line of work. As noted by the authors, there are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE.

The researchers say they were shocked by their own findings and how pervasive CTE was among the study's sample.

The issue sprang to the fore after Junior Seau - considered one of the greatest linebackers of all time - shot himself in 2012 at the age of 43.

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Would you let your kids play football?

And later that month, a federal appeals court ruled league administrators ignored evidence of a retired player's CTE when considering his eligibility for disability payments.

The study is limited by factors such as its selection bias and lack of a control group, the researchers write.

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