Study reveals harmful brain effects caused by contact sports

The Guardian reports that the largest ever study of cases of football players with the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has, again, found a link between the condition and “prior participation in football”, particularly in professionals.

The study looked at the brains of 111 NFL players and found CTE in 110 of them, or 99% of those studied. CTE is associated with repeated blows to the head, including concussions.

Symptoms include difficulty with attention and memory, dementia, mood disorders and headaches.

Dr Jon Patricios, Sports Physician at Sports Concussion South Africa, says the study observes an interesting pattern in the brains of deceased American footballers.

We know that this pattern exists and refers to a distinct pattern of protein deposition.

Dr Jon Patricios Sports Physician at Sports Concussion South Africa

What we don't know is what happens from the time they play football and have collisions to the time that their brains are examined.

Dr Jon Patricios Sports Physician at Sports Concussion South Africa

Patricios adds that the study also highlights the issue of mental health in athletes.

Whatever the findings are, we have recognised that we've probably underdiagnosed and undertreated conditions such as concussion in all collision sports adds Patricios.

Listen to the interview below:

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