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Progressive brain disease common in football players

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2015 | Brain Injuries

A passion for football is instilled in sports fans in Massachusetts and across the country. Unfortunately, football can come with risks that are more serious than broken bones or the occasional concussion. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, according to PBS, is a brain disorder that is caused by repeated blows to the head, which are common in football games. Recent research suggests that the issue is much more prevalent than it was previously believed.

Medical researchers tested the brain tissue of 91 deceased former NFL players. It was discovered that 87 of them had suffered from CTE. This brain disease is usually caused by sustaining numerous lower-impact blows over a long period of time, instead of serious concussions. Many of the players had been offensive or defensive linemen, who regularly go head-to-head in combative positions during games.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is definitively diagnosed after death with brain tissue sampling. However, numerous symptoms may suggest a person has developed the condition, according to the Mayo Clinic. Common early symptoms may include the following:

  • Emotional problems, depression or suicidal behavior
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • Memory loss
  • Unstable moods

As the disease progresses, sufferers may begin to have problems with walking or fine motor skills, difficulty swallowing and speech impairments. They might start to act aggressive and have problems with vision and sense of smell. Eventually, dementia can set in. It usually takes between eight and 10 years for the symptoms of CTE to appear after repetitive mild brain injuries.

The NFL and other football organizations claim they are committed to player safety and innovative equipment to prevent major injuries. A personal injury attorney may be able to advise those who are injured as the result of faulty equipment or lax safety procedures.