Dr. Bill looks at new research on football and brain injuries Show Notes

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 Host(s): Dr. Bill Maier
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More concern is being raised about football players and head injuries.

ABC News reports that researchers have announced that 34 NFL players whose brains were studied suffered from CTE, a degenerative brain disease brought on by repeated hits to the head. CTE results in confusion, depression and, eventually, dementia.

Researchers at Boston University have published the largest case series study of CTE to date. Of the 85 brains donated by the families of deceased veterans and athletes with histories of head trauma, they found CTE in 68 of them. Of those, 34 were professional football players, nine others played college football and six played high school football.

However, it isn’t known how much brain trauma results in CTE.

Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the lead researchers who performed the study, says "While it remains unknown what level of exposure to brain trauma is required to trigger CTE, there is no available evidence that occasional, isolated or well-managed concussions give rise to [the disorder]"

Several highly publicized suicides by NFL players have focused attention on the impact of repeated head trauma. 

San Diego Chargers veteran Junior Seau and ex Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson both died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds in the last two years.  Researchers say that Duerson definitely suffered from CTE, and Seau’s brain is currently being studied for effects of the disorder.

Seau's death  prompted NFL player Jacob Bell to quit the sport altogether, terminating his contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.

CTE has also been found in hockey players, wrestlers and boxers. It's still not possible to diagnose while a person is alive.

I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.

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