Brain Disease Found in 96% of Deceased NFL Players Tested

footballChronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive and devastating brain disease caused by repeated head trauma, including subconcussive trauma to the brain. 87 out of 91 Deceased NFL players have tested positive for CTE. That’s 96% Conclusive tests can only be performed post-mortem. For years the NFL tried to deny that there was any connection at all. Now it admits there are some risks, but still tries to downplay the problem. As recently as March, 2015, the NFL’s Dr. Joseph Maroon said the problem is being “over-exaggerated” in an interview on NFL Total Access.

Repeated Minor Head Trauma

The research findings suggest that the biggest threat to players is repeated minor head trauma, not the major blows that cause obvious concussions. These are the kind of blows that some players experience throughout each game. Minor head trauma doesn’t cause blackouts or cause a player to take any time out of play. They just keep going without even knowing they are injured. Parents should note that this conclusion is noteworthy for people who play football and other contact sports at all levels, including pee wee, high school and college.

The Research

The VA-BU-SLI Brain Bank is the largest in the country. The brains come from people who have agreed to donate their brains for research when they die. Donors are often people who chose to donate their brains because they were experiencing symptoms of CTE while they were alive. Of the 91 NFL players’ brain tested, 87 were positive for CTE. The center has found CTE in the brain tissue of 131 out of 165 people who had played football at some level during their lives, ranging from high school to professional football.

CTE is just one of the devastating consequences of brain injuries, and an example of how the real harm caused by head trauma may not become noticeable until years after injury.

Following are a number of other articles about brain injury:

For more information on football safety, check out our History of Football Safety inforgraphic.

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