Monday, July 15

New Brain Study from Boston University Strengthens Link Between Football and Neurological Disease

A new report from the Boston University CTE Center provides what could be damning evidence in the ongoing case of the National Football League (NFL) versus many of its former players. According to the report, 76 out of the 79 brains of deceased former players dissected by Boston University scientists showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, more commonly referred to as CTE.

CTE has had many names over the years, but the most apt for the condition is likely “punch drunk.” As detailed in a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine titled Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy: A Potential Late Effect of Sport-Related Concussive and Subconcussive Head Trauma, CTE is caused by repeated trauma to the brain, concussive or subconcussive. The term “punch drunk” refers to the trauma caused through repeated hits to the head during boxing matches, another sport within which the condition runs rampant.

The symptoms of CTE regularly take years to manifest. In the case of former football players, many don’t see any signs or symptoms of the condition until they’ve been out of regular play for decades. When CTE finally manifests, it’s often in the shrinking of the brain tissue and a number of other physical symptoms that cause memory loss, behavioral conditions, personality disorders, and early onset dementia.

Will Current NFL Efforts Be Enough?

Because of the severity and ostensibly undeniable link between football and CTE, the NFL has faced lawsuits from 4,500 of its former players searching for compensation. In the summer of 2013, the league settled many of these lawsuits with a $765 million payout, split between living players and the families of those whose conditions had already led to the inevitable. The foundation of those cases was based in the idea that the NFL “downplayed, dismissed, and covered up” its knowledge of the effects of playing in the league, as The Atlantic reports.

With the $9 billion organization setting up a program to diagnose and treat its players early, it seems to be making strides in the right direction. Whether or not it will be enough to appease the many current and former players bringing suit against the NFL remains to be seen.

Do you think NFL players are deserving of more help from the league in light of this latest revelation? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.

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