In CTE Study, a Sky-High Number

CTE found in 92% of ex-NFL players' brains that were studied
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2023 12:48 PM CST
376 Ex-NFL Players' Brains Were Studied. 92% Had CTE
McKee says she has "worry and fear" for today's NFL star.   (Getty Images/Yobro10)

A Boston University study of the brains of deceased former football players had shocking results: More than 90% of them were diagnosed with the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The Boston University CTE Center says that of 376 former players whose brains were studied, 345, or 91.7%, had CTE, USA Today reports. In a previous study in 2018, Boston University researchers looked at the brains of people from various walks of life and found only one—a former college football player—had CTE. "To me, this is an unacceptably high risk and it cries out for something to be done," said Dr. Ann McKee, director of the CTE Center.

McKee tells the Brink that while the findings do not mean that 92% of current and former NFL players have CTE—the disease can only be definitively diagnosed after death, and the center relies on donated brains—there is undoubtedly cause for concern. She says the NFL gave the center $1 million in 2010, but she hasn't spoke to the league in years and she is disappointed that it isn't doing more to counter the disease. "They aren’t working to actively monitor their players, in any substantial way to look at CTE, and lessening the amount of head impacts," she says. "They haven’t done anything substantial to reduce repetitive hits."

CTE can cause personality changes and erratic behavior as well as memory loss, WCVB reports, and researchers say the main risk factor appears to be repetitive blows to the head. With the Super Bowl days away, McKee says she is worried about the future today's NFL stars will face. "I see that they are celebrities. They feel invincible. At the top of the game," she says. "I understand that and the power that must hold over them. But they are unfortunately not living with the real risks of the disease." (More CTE stories.)

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