BANG. OVER 90 PERCENT OF NFL ATHLETES HAVE SOME SORT OF BRAIN DAMAGE FROM FOOTBALL.
When 250-pound men run into each other at full force, their bodies are bound to feel the aftereffects down the line. When repeated for the entirety of your career, however, the results could only be described as catastrophic.
A new study from the CTE Center has found that CTE is not the only consequence of these repetitive collisions. Many former athletes were found to be suffering from issues with mental clarity and impulsive behavior — but in the absence of CTE.
The NFL is about elite athleticism, but much of its drawbacks are foreshadowed by the glitz and glam. The Boston University CTE Center studied 376 former NFL athletes and found that a whopping 91.7 percent of the players had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — which often causes a variety of symptoms, including:
Growing scientific evidence has solidified the fact that elite athletes don’t just experience physical strain, but significant mental stress as well. However, American Football has been notorious for brain damage, and new research is showing that this multi-million-dollar career may come at an even steeper cost.
A team of researchers at the CTE Center found that brain damage in the absence of CTE is caused due to a reduction in the brain’s white matter.
White matter acts as the brain’s highway (of sorts), allowing the transmission of information between different areas of the brain. However, a reduction in white matter can lead to a significant reduction in brain function, leading to cognitive problems later in life.
“Damage to the white matter may help explain why football players appear more likely to develop cognitive and behavioral problems later in life, even in the absence of CTE,” said corresponding author Dr. Thor Stein.
These blows to the head don’t have any immediate symptoms besides some delirium, but the effect is compounded over time – and is largely permanent.
Researchers report that imaging tests for white matter reductions might be able to explain cognitive changes in athletes.
“We can also use these tests to better understand how repeated hits to the head from football and other sports lead to a long-term injury to the white matter,” said co-author Michael L. Alosco, Ph.D., associate professor of neurology.
While scientists are looking to reverse this damage with a combination of therapeutic protocols, such as antioxidants, acetylcholine, and brain enhancement supplements, the benefits have shown to be limited at most.