The New York Times today released the findings of a neuropathological study examining the brains of 202 deceased American Football players. Presented by Dr. Ann McKee, the results are absolutely staggering.
Of the 202 players studied, 111 had previously played in the NFL - 110 of these players were found to have suffered "chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE., the degenerative disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head."
McKee's study considered brains 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. They are from players you have never heard of and players, like Ken Stabler, who are enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
The progressive impact of CTE on the human brain can be detected via symptoms such as - but not exclusively - dementia, hypomimia, speech impediments, vertigo and deafness. Some may argue therefore that the donations of these brains are from families who suspected the results prior to McKee's study, and, as such, may not reflect as broad a reflection as this 99% frequency amongst NFL players suggests.
Yet, The New York Times argues that,
110 positives remain significant scientific evidence of an NFL. player’s risk of developing CTE., 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 CTE. prevalence would be close to 9 percent, vastly higher than in the general population.
Considering the range of players studied from lower standards of play than the NFL itself, the results were unsurprisingly lower, but shocking nonetheless:
In addition to the 111 brains from those who played in the NFL., 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 CTE. 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.
In what has become an increasingly contentious topic for the NFL to contend with particularly, the release of this latest study - and the further work that can and certainly will be carried out thereafter - will demonstrate the need for radical change. As McKee herself summarised, “It is no longer debatable whether or not there is a problem in football — there is a problem.”