A new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association shows an inextricable link between NFL players and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.), a brain disease believed to be caused "by repeated blows to the head." The New York Times reports that the study, which was conducted on 111 brains of deceased NFL players, proved that 110 of the subjects had CTE. The link has long been denied or minimized by NFL bigwigs. “It is no longer debatable whether or not there is a problem in football — there is a problem,” Dr. Ann McKee, the neuropathologist who conducted the study, said.
C.T.E. triggers multiple symptoms including memory loss, confusion, depression and dementia. In cases of C.T.E., the amygdala, a part of the brain that is involved with the experiencing of emotion, is often severly damaged, affecting "emotional control, aggression and anxiety." The time in which one has played football is positively correlated with the severity of the disease. Symptoms can present themselves years after exposure has already been endured, which is perhaps why subjects who were 70 and older account for 58 percent of those who were found to have had C.T.E. in the study.
"The N.F.L.’s top health and safety official has acknowledged a link between football and C.T.E., and the league has begun to steer children away from playing the sport in its regular form, encouraging safer tackling methods and promoting flag football," the article reads.
The brains in the study were from subjects that had died as early as 23 and as old as 89, from people who played various positions, some of little to no notoriety, and some as famous as Hall-of-Famer Ken Stabler. Some brains were not explicitly identified due to the families' wishes. Linemen account for the vast majority of brains with C.T.E., according to the study.
Read the article in its entirety here.
(Photo: Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
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