The NFL and football received another blow in its ongoing battle with brain disease. In a recent study of 202 brains belonging to former football players of all levels, CTE was found in 177 of them. Even though players from professional to high school were studied, the highest percentage of CTE was found in former NFL players, where 110 of 111 brains showed signs of CTE.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a brain disease linked with repeated blows to the head, something that football players are exposed to every game. These impacts cause a buildup of a protein called tau in the brain which leads to a progressive loss of brain function over time. Common symptoms include depression, impulsivity, and behavior changes. Of the 177 players diagnosed with CTE, suicide was the cause of death with 18 of them.
Researchers do point out, however, that this study should not set a definitive percentage of players with CTE as there are a few reasons why such a high number was discovered. First of all, CTE can only be diagnosed after death, meaning the brains studied were donated by families who already had concerns about CTE in the first place. The majority of the brains studied were also players from around 40 years ago. A lot has changed in rules and style of play since then.
In order to best find a solution to this problem, the NFL has pledged $100 million towards concussion research, with $60 million towards technological improvements, such as helmets, and $40 million to medical research.