All NFL fans are currently expecting the upcoming season of football, but for a second let’s think about the risk that football players are exposed to. Some injuries here and there don’t seem much, after all, while choosing this career players knew what they were exposing themselves to, but did they really know?
Researchers from Boston University, with the help of the Department of Veterans Affairs, have studied the brains of deceased football players that were donated for science and discovered that 95% of them showed signs of brain disease, specifically chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
This disease develops in time if progressive damage is brought to the brain, constant blows to the head for example. As the amount of damage is reduced to a small number of nerve cells, if the head traumas aren’t strong enough to cause concussions, the disease doesn’t give any signs of symptoms and cannot be diagnosed while de patient is still alive. These small injuries lead to an accumulation of proteins that interrupt the nerve cell communication which can cause difficulties in the thinking process, emotional disturbances, depression or dementia.
Previous studies have been made to prove that NFL player that suffer one or more concussions in their professional years will have an increased risk of brain shrinkage and memory loss. Legal action was taken against the league and more than 5000 former players given a $1 billion settlement.
As there were not enough football player brains donated to science, the research can not be yet concluded. The risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy has a higher incidence in NFL players, but they have to convince people that this disease is dangerous enough to be taken into consideration. The league should be more invested in helping these kind of researches to better secure their players health.