Nearly all former pro football players had brain injury, new study shows

In all, the researchers looked at 202 brains that belonged to football players at all levels. CTE was present in 87 percent.
By Jeremy Morrow | Jul 25, 2017
When scientists from Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System examined 111 brains of ex-NFL players later donated for research, they found 110 to have signs consistent with a post-mortem diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE a neurodegenerative disease.

In all, the researchers looked at 202 brains that belonged to football players at all levels. CTE was present in 87 percent.

The authors of the study, which is published in the current issue of JAMA, caution that it was not random because families are more likely to donate the brains of loved ones for scientific research if they already suspect a brain injury.

"Obviously, this doesn't represent the prevalence in the general population, but the fact that we've been able to gather this high a number of cases in such a short period of time says that this disease is not uncommon," said neuropathologist and co-author Ann McKee, as reported by The Washington Post. "In fact, I think it's much more common that we currently realize. And more importantly, this is a problem in football that we need to address and we need to address it now in order to bring some hope and optimism to football players."

The NFL has pledged to improve helmets and last year promised $100 million for concussion-related research.

"The NFL is committed to supporting scientific research into CTE and advancing progress in the prevention and treatment of head injuries," said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, in response to the new study.

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