New study finds brain disease in 95% of deceased NFL players
Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University, MA, identified chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 87 of 91 deceased NFL players, indicating that there is a link between football and long-term brain disease.
The findings were first reported by PBS and published on the website of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, whose brain bank received a $1 million research grant from the NFL in 2010.
"People think that we're blowing this out of proportion, that this is a very rare disease and that we're sensationalizing it," says Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System. "My response is that where I sit, this is a very real disease. We have had no problem identifying it in hundreds of players."
The team has previously identified CTE in the brains of football players who have donated their brains to science. So far, they have identified CTE in 96% of NFL players and 79% of football players examined to date - a total of 131 out of 165 individuals.
CTE occurs when an individual receives blows to the head over a period of time, causing progressive damage to nerve cells in the brain. The condition can impair cognitive functioning, causing difficulties with thinking and emotions and leading to problems such as depression and dementia.