Hope you’re all doing well!
A recent study published in the JAMA medical journal revealed that the majority of American football players developed Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). This study is very significant because it is the largest study to ever be conducted on this topic.
Since CTE is a disease that can only be diagnosed after death, this study involved studying the brain autopsies of 202 football players. Out of these 202 players, 177 of them were diagnosed with CTE.
Within this sample some were high school football players, some were college football players and 111 of these were NFL football players. A shocking 99 percent (110 out of 111) of these NFL players developed CTE. Take a look at this very informative CNN article to learn more about the impact and limitations of this study.
CTE is a degenerative brain disorder which means that the symptoms will continually deteriorate over time. Currently, at this time CTE has no known cure. Aside from American Football players CTE is also found in:
- Rugby Players
- Ice Hockey Players
- War veterans with a history of blast or concussive injury.
- People who repeatedly bang their heads
- People who have been physically abused
- People with uncontrolled epilepsy
CTE is primarily caused by multiple head injuries which cause concussions. A concussion occurs when an individual gets a violent blow to the head which causes the brain to slam against the skull. For example, when football players get a concussion they are usually hit by speeds that range from 17 to 25 miles per hour which is more than 90 times the speed of gravity.
The impact of a concussion can cause bruising of the brain, torn blood vessels, and nerve damage. Some of the immediate symptoms of a concussion include confusion, amnesia, loss of consciousness, ringing in the ears, and nausea and vomiting.
According to the Mayo Clinic the following are some of the symptoms of CTE:
- Trouble thinking (Cognitive Impairment)
- Impulsive behavior
- Depression or apathy
- Short-term memory loss
- Difficulty planning and carrying out tasks (executive function)
- Emotional Instability
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal thoughts and behavior
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for CTE but preventative steps can be taken. Since CTE is primarily caused by concussions it is vital to take steps to ideally prevent concussions from occurring in the first place or at least, prevent further injury after a concussion.
Many athletes can benefit from sport specific helmets and riders can benefit from bicycle and motorcycle helmets. These helmets may not completely prevent concussions however, research has shown that they can reduce the occurrence of dangerous brain injuries.
This past week many news outlets have been reporting the results of this study and I hope that this post helps to give a bit more information about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.