Thursday, December 6, 2012

Repetitive Mild Brain Injury and CTE

The evidence that there is a link between repetitive mild traumatic brain injury and a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) continues to build. In the most recent study, published in the journal Brain, evidence of CTE was found in the brains of 68 of 85 subjects with a history of mild traumatic brain injury, including 34 of 35 NFL players and four out of five hockey players. In contrast, there was no evidence of CTE in the brains of 18 normal control subjects.

These new data should not be taken to mean that nearly all NFL players and hockey players are destined to develop CTE. It’s important to recognize that the subjects who were chosen for inclusion in the study were chosen specifically because they had been exposed to repetitive mild brain injury during their careers. Nevertheless, the numbers are pretty shocking. No one is suggesting that we give up sports such as football and hockey. But as the dangers of repetitive brain injury become more and more apparent, sports federations and professional sports leagues will need to look closely at how to protect athletes from these kinds of injuries.

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