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Out of 111 NFL players' brains, 110 tested positive for CTE


The NZA
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NYT

 

Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist, has examined the brains of 202 deceased football players. A broad survey of her findings was published on Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

 

Of the 202 players, 111 of them played in the N.F.L. — and 110 of those were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., the degenerative disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.

 

The brains here are from players who died as young as 23 and as old as 89. And they are from every position on the field — quarterbacks, running backs and linebackers, and even a place-kicker and a punter.

 

The set of players posthumously tested by Dr. McKee is far from a random sample of N.F.L. retirees. “There’s a tremendous selection bias,” she has cautioned, noting that many families have donated brains specifically because the former player showed symptoms of C.T.E.

 

But 110 positives remain significant scientific evidence of an N.F.L. player’s risk of developing C.T.E., which can be diagnosed only after death. About 1,300 former players have died since the B.U. group began examining brains. So even if every one of the other 1,200 players would have tested negative — which even the heartiest skeptics would agree could not possibly be the case — the minimum C.T.E. prevalence would be close to 9 percent, vastly higher than in the general population.

 

In addition to the 111 brains from those who played in the N.F.L., researchers also examined brains from the Canadian Football League, semi-professional players, college players and high school players. Of the 202 brains studied, 87 percent were found to have C.T.E. The study found that the high school players had mild cases, while college and professional players showed more severe effects. But even those with mild cases exhibited cognitive, mood and behavioral symptoms.

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“There’s a tremendous selection bias,” she has cautioned, noting that many families have donated brains specifically because the former player showed symptoms of C.T.E.

 

This makes sense but I wouldn't be any less worried if I was either a football player or a loved one. 87% in the CFL isn't promising either. Damn, my Canadian cousin plays in that league (or used to, haven't talked to him in a few years). The symptoms of CTE (that I just googled) sound horrific. I know they've tried to make the game safer, but damn. If playing pro football was my dream, I wonder if this risk would be enough to stop me.

 

Side note, NZA, the colors on this thread make it really difficult to read. :(

Edited by Donutella
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