National Football League (NFL) is often criticized for being too violent and destructive since on-field hits and collisions can lead to serious injuries and even to chronic diseases. According to a recent research, 87 of 91 deceased NFL players have been tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that is believed to be caused by repeated head trauma. This constitutes a staggering ratio of 96% with the disease.
“People think we’re blowing this out of proportion, that this is a very rare disease and that we’re sensationalizing it,” said Dr. Ann McKee from VA Boston Healthcare System and lab director where autopsies have been conducted. “My response is that where I sit, this is a very real disease. We had not problem identifying in hundreds of players.”
Overall, CTE has been found in 131 of 165 individuals, who played football in high school or beyond, making it present in 79% of football players.
The research conducted by Department of Veteran Affairs and Boston University also found that 40% of those tested positive for CTE were offensive or defensive lineman. These players usually not involve in big collisions but frequent minor hits put them at a greater risk to the disease.
Brain scans can identify the signs of the disease in living players but they cannot be 100% sure until the death when the brains of the diseased players are examined.
Only brains of those died players were autopsied who either agreed to donate their organs while living or their families suspected that they were suffering from the chronic brain disease.
CTE is a disease that is often linked to conditions like mood swings, depression, suicidal thoughts, dementia and memory loss. In recent years, many NFL players filed lawsuit against the league to pay them for serious medical conditions associated with repetitive head trauma. In April 2015, the players and NFL reached to a settlement and agreed to give $5 million to each player sustaining serious injuries.