A neuropathologist recently examined the brains of 111 players in the National Football League (NFL) and discovered that almost all of them, 110 to be exact, had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative disease that has previously been linked to blows to the head. The disease can cause memory loss, depression, confusion, and dementia, and often exhibits symptoms years after blows to the head have stopped.
The study involved examining the brains of 202 deceased players, including the 111 former members of the NFL. Players ranged from age 23-89, and included players from every position on the field.
The NFL released this statement to NPR:
We appreciate the work done by Dr. McKee and her colleagues for the value it adds in the ongoing quest for a better understanding of CTE. Case studies such as those compiled in this updated paper are important to further advancing the science and progress related to head trauma. The medical and scientific communities will benefit from this publication and the NFL will continue to work with a wide range of experts to improve the health of current and former NFL athletes. As noted by the authors, there are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence, and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE. The NFL is committed to supporting scientific research into CTE and advancing progress in the prevention and treatment of head injuries.