Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rethinking North American Football

They died as young as 23 and as old as 89. In their professional careers these men played every position on a football team. They had one thing in common. Of the 111 pro National Football League players, the brains of all but one revealed chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE, a degenerative brain disease associated with repeated head trauma.

110 out of 111, that's a compelling statistic.

Among 202 deceased former football players (median age at death, 66 years [interquartile range, 47-76 years]), CTE was neuropathologically diagnosed in 177 players (87%; median age at death, 67 years [interquartile range, 52-77 years]; mean years of football participation, 15.1 [SD, 5.2]), including 0 of 2 pre–high school, 3 of 14 high school (21%), 48 of 53 college (91%), 9 of 14 semiprofessional (64%), 7 of 8 Canadian Football League (88%), and 110 of 111 National Football League (99%) players. Neuropathological severity of CTE was distributed across the highest level of play, with all 3 former high school players having mild pathology and the majority of former college (27 [56%]), semiprofessional (5 [56%]), and professional (101 [86%]) players having severe pathology. Among 27 participants with mild CTE pathology, 26 (96%) had behavioral or mood symptoms or both, 23 (85%) had cognitive symptoms, and 9 (33%) had signs of dementia. Among 84 participants with severe CTE pathology, 75 (89%) had behavioral or mood symptoms or both, 80 (95%) had cognitive symptoms, and 71 (85%) had signs of dementia.


Lorne said...

I watched a television report on this last evening, Mound. The saddest aspect of this is, I believe, absolutely nothing will change. Sports are big business, and the profit motive outweighs all other considerations, as we also see in the larger world today.

Toby said...

As noted, football and hockey players wear protective helmets yet suffer inordinate head injuries. Can someone remind me why bicyclists have to wear helmets?

Is helmet design tragically lacking? Helmets protect the skin and maybe the cranium but they don't stop concussions. In my lay understanding, a concussion may result when the brain (which is soft) slams up against a hard surface, the inside of the cranium. What's the point of protecting the cranium when its contents are being mushed? A helmet designed to protect the brain would have to have a deceleration factor slow enough for a gentle landing.