Researchers Find Shocking But Expected Results in Brain Study: 99% of Former NFL Players Had CTE

by | Jul 27, 2017

Following years of litigation and ongoing research, the full scope of brain injury risks faced by professional football players is becoming clearer – and the new evidence is alarming. According to a study recently published in the medical journal JAMA, researchers found chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 99% of NFL players studied.

CTE, a neurodegenerative brain disease that has been linked to repetitive head trauma, is a progressive condition that can have debilitating and life-altering effects for both victims and families. These commonly include:

  • Memory loss
  • Impaired judgment
  • Aggression, anxiety, depression, or erratic behavior
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Gradual onset of dementia

Because CTE can only be diagnosed during an autopsy, understanding of the condition and its prevalence has been elusive. In the latest study, Boston University’s CTE Center was able to analyze brains donated for scientific research from deceased NFL players, as well as football players of other levels. Their findings were compelling:

  • CTE was identified in 110 out of 111 former NFL players.
  • Out of 202 former players (including high school, college, and professional players), CTE was diagnosed in 177 athletes.
  • CTE was found in 3 of 14 high school players and 48 of 53 college players.

The study’s findings are critical to improving our understanding of CTE and the long-term effects of repetitive brain injuries, as well as exploring who is most susceptible to the disease based on length of careers and exposure to head trauma, and how it can be prevented. The findings can also aid players in understanding the importance of seeking medical treatment for their problems. Although CTE cannot be diagnosed until after death, many symptoms associated with the disease, including anxiety and depression, can be treated.

Repetitive Head Injuries & Long-term Outcomes

CTE has long been associated with repetitive head trauma, especially among athletes in contact sports, including boxing. It was not until 2016, however, that the NFL publicly acknowledged connections between football and CTE. In 2015, the league settled a lawsuit with thousands of former players who suffer from serious neurocognitive impairments and conditions associated with football, including dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease, and CTE).

The study, and many like it, supports the conclusion that repeated concussions and brain injuries have a cumulative exponential impact on long-term outcomes, with the expectation that a second concussion and subsequent head injuries will lead to more significant and/or permanent deficits. This is especially concerning for athletes in contact sports such as football, as having one concussion makes one more susceptible to having another.

At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our legal team has earned national recognition for our involvement in cases and efforts involving brain injuries. In addition to representing injured victims suffering a brain injury in civil personal injury cases, our legal team has been actively involved in raising awareness, furthering research, and drafting legislation designed to protect youth athletes from concussions. Our work has earned us the designation of “Preferred Attorneys” for the DC Metro area by the Brain Injury Association of America.

We believe new research into brain injuries, including studies of athletes, are promising to all brain injury victims, as they help illustrate the profound life challenges victims may face. As this research progresses, it may prove useful in helping victims illustrate the full scope of their future damages after they suffer concussions, including those caused by the negligence or failures of others.

If you have questions regarding brain injuries and your legal rights, our firm is readily available to help. We proudly serve residents throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC, and offer FREE consultation. Contact us to speak with a member of our team.

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