A research team from Boston University and the VA Boston Healthcare System conducted the largest study into the link between football related brain trauma and the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
The team diagnosed CTE in 110 out of 111 former NFL players whose brains were donated for research, publishing its findings on Tuesday, USA Today reports.
Indeed, the diagnosis was common among football players at multiple levels, from high school to professional leagues. Overall, the researchers discovered CTE in 87 percent of the 202 brains they examined.
Suicide was the most common cause of death for players at the mild stages of CTE. Nearly half of those who died at advanced stages of CTE developed neurodegenerative-related causes of death, similar to symptoms related to dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
The researchers also said many who developed the disease exhibited behavioral issues, which became more severe at advanced stages.
The NFL issued this statement, via USA Today:
“We appreciate the work done by Dr. McKee and her colleagues for the value it adds in the ongoing quest for a better understanding of CTE. Case studies such as those compiled in this updated paper are important to further advancing the science and progress related to head trauma.”
Once the NFL finally acknowledged the problem and lawsuits mounted, it instituted concussion protocols for injured players.
SOURCE: USA Today