As a new American football season
is set to begin, researchers examining the brains of deceased National
Football League players have found that 99 percent of them showed signs
of degenerative disease — believed to be caused by repeated blows to the
Researchers found striking evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in 110 of the 111 donated brains of players who played in
the NFL, according to the study published on Tuesday in the Journal of
the American Medical Association.
CTE causes symptoms, including memory loss, vertigo, depression and dementia. Problems can crop up years after a player’s career has ended.
The NFL has faced growing scrutiny in recent years linked to the issue of concussions and head trauma, with the league agreeing in 2015
on a US$1 billion settlement to resolve thousands of lawsuits by former
players suffering from neurological problems.
Along with NFL players, researchers also examined the brains of those who had played in high school, college, semi-professionally and in the
Canadian Football League.
Of the total 202 players examined, the authors of the study from Boston University found that 87 percent of the players — whose median
age at death was 66 years old — showed signs of CTE.
“These findings suggest that CTE may be related to prior participation in football and that a high level of play may be related
to substantial disease burden,” the study authors wrote.