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If Youve Ever Played Football You May Have Brain Damage

first_img We’ve known that football is super bad for brains for a while. It’s gotten the National Football League in a lot of hot water recently, too. The organization has been slow to adapt or adopt new rules or standards that could protect players, but a new study might just light a fire under their collective asses.A team analyzed the brains of 202 football players who had donated their bodies to science. Of them, 177 had brain damage. In that sample, there were 111 NFL players and all but one showed severe brain damage.Specifically, the researchers were looking for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. That’s a type of disorder caused by repeated blows to the head. Even relatively minor shocks can potentially cause the brain to knock against the walls of the skull. When playing sports, particularly full-contact sports like football, those kinds of hits are a lot more common. Scientists suspect that this could very well mean that footballers are a lot more likely to develop the condition over time.The study seems pretty damning, but it’s also worth noting a few things. First, players tend to donate their brains to research when they’re already suspected of having the disease. This leads to what we, in the fields of science, call selection bias.This means there are some conclusions we definitely cannot make from this. For one, we don’t really know how common the disease is among average people. Unfortunately, you can only screen for it after someone has died. And most people don’t have a reason for someone to give their brains a long hard look after death. Maybe jogging or running, in general, can cause it. We simply can’t say. We also don’t know what could be done to make it better for football players. Would better helmets work? Maybe. Again, it’s impossible to say. What we know now, is that football is a definitive and obvious risk factor. Or, as the study authors put it: “In a convenience sample of deceased players of American football, a high proportion showed pathological evidence of CTE, suggesting that CTE may be related to prior participation in football.”That’s not nothing, certainly, but it’s also not solid. For now, we need more studies. It certainly couldn’t hurt, though, for the NFL to begin seriously looking at how to protect their players proactively, particularly because symptoms of CTE can be really, really bad. Many have mood disorders, dementia, and severe cognitive problems. It’s suspected that these could cause players to be more violent, harming others and themselves. It also seems to life expectancy quite a bit, down to 66 years, on average. With results like that, these issues might not necessarily spawn from football, but they are nothing if not chilling.It’s hard to know what, if anything, could change from this, though. Fans tend to like the idea of football as a rough-and tumble game, and many players (though certainly not all) know that there are all kinds of medical risks with full-contact sports. As long as that remains the case and as long as the evidence isn’t absolute, there’s little chance we’ll see American football start using flags, for example, overnight. Might not be as brutal, but it’s probably a helluva lot safer.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. ‘NBA 2K20’ Reveals Star-Studded Story ModeBasketball Pro Suspended When Drug Test Revealed He Was ‘Pregnant’ Stay on targetlast_img read more