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Medicine

Brain Disease Found In NFL Players 271

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-you-mean-smashing-your-head-isn't-safe dept.
SternisheFan sends this excerpt from ABC: "On the heels of the latest NFL suicide, researchers announced today that 34 NFL players whose brains were studied suffered from CTE, a degenerative brain disease brought on by repeated hits to the head that results in confusion, depression and, eventually, dementia. The study was released just days after the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. It's not yet known what triggered Belcher's action, but they mirror other NFL players who have committed suicide. Researchers at Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy published the largest case series study of CTE to date (abstract), according to the center. Of the 85 brains donated by the families of deceased veterans and athletes with histories of repeated head trauma, they found CTE in 68 of them. Of those, 34 were professional football players, nine others played college football and six played only high school football. Of the 35 professional football players' brains donated, only one had no evidence of the disease, according to the study." It's a good thing we protect our youth from conditions like this.
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Brain Disease Found In NFL Players

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  • by Press2ToContinue (2424598) * on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:11AM (#42188171)

    Do we really need a study to show that repeated hits to the head result in confusion, depression and dementia? If so, I'd like to sign up to be the guy on the research team that whacks this researcher on the head repeatedly so he can discover the effects.

    I just want to help. Really I do.

    • by the_Bionic_lemming (446569) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:19AM (#42188225)

      Actually, they need to expand the study and find out what performance enhancers might be in use as well.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:29AM (#42188299)

      Do we really need a study to show that repeated hits to the head result in confusion, depression and dementia? If so, I'd like to sign up to be the guy on the research team that whacks this researcher on the head repeatedly so he can discover the effects.

      I just want to help. Really I do.

      We know that hits to the head result in all that and more, but now there's actual quantized data. With hard facts it's harder to muddle the issue with "but they wear protective helmets" or some other wishy washy double talk.

      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @06:06AM (#42189743) Journal

        But seriously will it matter? Not to be cruel but its not like we all didn't already know getting your brain bashed repeatedly was bad for you, hell look at boxing, not even a helmet there and we have seen so many old boxers drooling on themselves from brain damage it isn't even funny.

        But the simple fact is as long as there is huge piles of money to be made from having one guy headbrick the other guy it is NEVER gonna change. if it were ever gonna change boxing would have been outlawed 20 years ago, after all the amount of brain damaged football players is nothing compared to how many boxers get brain damage.

        As much as I wish it weren't so as long as the owners and the memorabilia companies and the food vendors and all these others are raking in the cash then these guys are just disposable, sad but true. That is why I think college football and boxing should be banned and the teams have to pay for minor leagues, if these guys are gonna risk getting busted all to hell at least cut them a check for the risk.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:32AM (#42188315) Journal

      Do we really need a study to show that repeated hits to the head result in confusion, depression and dementia? If so, I'd like to sign up to be the guy on the research team that whacks this researcher on the head repeatedly so he can discover the effects.

      I just want to help. Really I do.

      If we want information on such minor questions as "how often repeated?", "Just how hard?", "Are the effects merely additive, or does one hit make the next more dangerous?", "Are hits with no clinicially observable effects safe or do they add up?".

      It has never been news that hits hard enough to produce immediate, observable, effects are a bad plan. That hits with no effect, or from which you appear to recover, are a very serious risk for degeneration in the mid to long term? That isn't immediately obvious.

      • by 0111 1110 (518466)

        Maybe not obvious but certainly already well known. There will always be people that want to deny such things however. So the more evidence the better. Since most people who play football (of any sort) aren't exactly what you'd call intellectuals in the first place, the practical question for them is when will they actually become drooling vegetables unable to take care of themselves?

        • by xQx (5744) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:44AM (#42188391)
          In other news, this study was repeated using NFL supporters as a control group.

          In that study, no statistically significant differences were found between the level of brain damage found in the control group compared with that of the group studied.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Do people become stupid from playing football or does football attract stupid people?

        • It will take a lot of data to break through the (conveniently not-at-all-self-serving) 'Just rub some dirt in it and don't be a pussy" school of sports medicine, I fear.

          • I'm sure the wave of insanely monstrous lawsuits coming down the line will do that. And the NFL isn't the only one facing this. The NHL isn't far behind.

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        If we want information on such minor questions as "how often repeated?", "Just how hard?", "Are the effects merely additive, or does one hit make the next more dangerous?", "Are hits with no clinicially observable effects safe or do they add up?".

        It has never been news that hits hard enough to produce immediate, observable, effects are a bad plan. That hits with no effect, or from which you appear to recover, are a very serious risk for degeneration in the mid to long term? That isn't immediately obvious.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2754260/ [nih.gov]

        They started with tackling lab rats. Repeated insults to the brain were helped with mild hypothermia. Clinical trials followed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, because the sports industry is fighting this research as hard as possible because they see it as the end of their cash cow. Read Sports Illustrated and check out how they portray this as pseudoscientific bullshit.

      If we can conclusively prove that concussive sports such as football and boxing lead to degenerative brain disease, every company invested in those sports will be looking at the end of their livelihood. Rather than do what's right for the players, they are working hard to spread FUD about such

      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:23AM (#42188603) Journal

        Wherever there is money to be made, there will be industry people doing everything they can to keep the money rolling, even if it means insane amounts of damage.

        But hey, it's America. Jesus loves a winner. Jesus hates taxes, Mexicans and poor sick people. Jesus loves the guy that gets thirty major concussions in his NFL career and suffers advanced dementia in his fifties.

        God bless this great country!

        • But hey, it's America. Jesus loves a winner. Jesus hates taxes, Mexicans and poor sick people. Jesus loves the guy that gets thirty major concussions in his NFL career and suffers advanced dementia in his fifties.

          Wrong about that last one; Jesus only loves the team owners that profited off of it.

          (Unless it's those socialistic Green Bay Packers.)

      • Yes, because the sports industry is fighting this research as hard as possible because they see it as the end of their cash cow. Read Sports Illustrated and check out how they portray this as pseudoscientific bullshit.

        People letting other people suffer and die to make a buck? Surely you jest.

    • by Lord Kano (13027) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:32AM (#42188667) Homepage Journal

      Then you are not thinking this through properly.

      I, on the other hand, would like to volunteer for the study that seeks to prove that receiving oral sex to completion from large breasted women is pleasurable.

      LK

    • by bogjobber (880402)

      Yes, actually, we do. It was previously thought that only hits hard enough to cause visible concussion symptoms resulted in brain damage. Now we know that consistent low-level impacts have a far more significant impact on CTE. Another thing that was not understood was how prevalent brain damage was in the sport. Obviously in a game featuring violent impacts you're going to end up with some brain damage, but the fact is that *nearly all* professional football players show some sign of CTE, and even kids

    • by reub2000 (705806)

      So just because Press2ToContinue thinks something is obvious, no research should be done on a subject? Fortunately science doesn't work on that principle.

    • by erroneus (253617)

      You don't understand. This is management training. It's part of the process.

    • by telchine (719345)

      Correlation != Causation

      Maybe demented people are more likely to take up American football!

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Do we really need a study to show that repeated hits to the head result in confusion, depression and dementia?

      Yes and No! Plenty of anecdotal evidence existed out there, enough for most of us to conclude participating in an activity where repeated blows to the head are common would increase our risk of those things. I think most of us *supposed* as much. What studies do is enable us to *know* things, they take it out of the realm of sure seems like it to, and move it into hard facts.

      Now I hear many people, say things like "measure don't guess". That is correct position when the answer will be actionable or woul

    • Could the data be looked at differently to say that people with brain abnormalities are drawn to play sports that demand more physical contact? Also, what does, "self-injurious head banging" mean? Can I sue MTV for the years I watched "Head-Bangers' Ball?"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Going to be interesting to see if Belcher's brain had this disease, seeing as it was spread all over the parking lot.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:33AM (#42188327) Journal

      Going to be interesting to see if Belcher's brain had this disease, seeing as it was spread all over the parking lot.

      One of his former colleagues [wikipedia.org] shot himself in the chest instead, for precisely that reason...

      • by NFN_NLN (633283) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:31AM (#42188659)

        Going to be interesting to see if Belcher's brain had this disease, seeing as it was spread all over the parking lot.

        One of his former colleagues [wikipedia.org] shot himself in the chest instead, for precisely that reason...

        Geez, I thought you were trolling but he LITERALLY... "sent a text message to his family saying he wanted his brain to be used for research at the Boston University School of Medicine, which is conducting research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) caused by playing professional football" ... and then shot himself in the chest!

        This guy was the definition of team player.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:25AM (#42188907)

          Going to be interesting to see if Belcher's brain had this disease, seeing as it was spread all over the parking lot.

          One of his former colleagues [wikipedia.org] shot himself in the chest instead, for precisely that reason...

          Geez, I thought you were trolling but he LITERALLY... "sent a text message to his family saying he wanted his brain to be used for research at the Boston University School of Medicine, which is conducting research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) caused by playing professional football" ... and then shot himself in the chest!

          This guy was the definition of team player.

          Lucky for him that his heart was in the right place.

        • This guy was the definition of team player.

          And, ironically, despite the brain damage, more interested in science than the average person.

  • by ipquickly (1562169) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:24AM (#42188261) Homepage

    This has been studied time and time again.
    Any sport that involves any repeated impact to the head - whether football, boxing [science20.com] or soccer [medpagetoday.com] will result in brain injury.

  • Nonsense (Score:3, Funny)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:24AM (#42188269)
    I plraled futbawl sence I wurz 5. It made my dad happy, and me happer. I never get suicidal, and I got hit in ther head hunnreds of times in those years. Preas don't look at my record and see my addiction to oxys and wife beating as any evidence to suppurt ur stupid claims either.
  • I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT!

    Sucks that so many folks are dying, though.

  • "a degenerative brain disease brought on by repeated hits to the head that results in confusion, depression and, eventually, dementia." Windows Vista users suffered from a similar condition.
  • Get my real time strategic sports viewing kicks from watching professional Starcraft now, knowing that the worst injuries being inflicted on the players is maybe a case of CTS, and only if they aren't careful about posture.
  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erp_consultant (2614861) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @01:13AM (#42188563)

    I mean look at the size of these guys today. Even the wide receivers are huge. Bigger, stronger, faster...all to feed our insatiable appetite for violence disguised as sport. In hockey it's the fights. In nascar it's the crashes. In football it's the big hit. Add to that the enormous sums of money available to the stars of these sports and it's no wonder they will do whatever is necessary to win. All to the delight of the fat, shirtless drunk spewing profanities on every play.

    The athletes are simply too big and strong. Could you imagine Fran Tarkenton playing in today's NFL? He would get killed. The equipment cannot protect them adequately. The NFL is stuck between giving the fans what they want on the one hand and getting sued on the other hand by crippled ex players. Cutting back on the head shots is a good start but how much can you really do to prevent permanent injury?

    • I'm not so familiar with football, but I know that with hockey, it's been demanded from many quarters for a couple of decades now that all leagues stop the checking and the fighting. The leagues will pay lip service to it, but the hard facts are that fans want to see violence. They want to see enforcers smashing the shit out of the fast little guy from the opposing team that keeps scoring goals. They love it when a player is smashed against the boards by some guy doing thirty miles an hour. It sells tickets

      • The GP is wrong about football. Sure, there are some guys who want to hurt each other, but often the opposing players are friends, who might have played on the same team in the past. They're big because it gives them a competitive advantage, just like sumo wrestlers or basketball players.

        In football, a big hit, sure it'll attract attention, but a nice run or beautiful interception will attract more.
        • Friends off the field perhaps but on the field not so much. Sure, between whistles they might exchange some chit chat and a hug after the game but during play it's game on. Look what happened with the New Orleans Saints and the "bounty" scandal. Opposing players were targeted not only to be hit but to be taken out of the game or even intentionally injured. I find it hard to believe that the Saints were the only team that engaged in this sort of thing. They just got caught.

          I'm a purist. I watch football for

      • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Alomex (148003) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @07:39AM (#42190125) Homepage

        but the hard facts are that fans want to see violence.

        This is a tautological statement. People who don't like violence turn off the TV and hence the remaining fans are the ones who like violence. But reality is that viewership would definitely go up if violence was eliminated.

        Presently, non-violent Olympic hockey gets the highest viewership figures by far both in the USA and Canada.

      • Well said. If you've got a kid with athletic ability then encourage them to take up golf or tennis. Yes, you can get injured in those sports too (back, knee, elbow) but at least you're not taking head shots every time you play.

        Unfortunately, for many kids athletics is what they see as their only way out of poverty. And for many of them it is. They play these games knowing the risks. They get shoved through college programs that, in many cases, fall far short of a "quality" education. Indeed, these kids are

      • by bogjobber (880402)
        Now that it has become clear beyond any sort of doubt that football causes significant amount of brain damage, the NFL has become very strict about enforcing dangerous hits with fines and suspensions. They've gone over the top, actually, to cover their assess since they ignored published medical science for decades. Now that the public has caught on to the science, they're backtracking as fast as they can.

        Just like you said, some of the smarter players have seen the signs and got out early. I remembe
  • Belcher killed his girlfriend, that was the motivation for his suicide, either from the grief over what he'd done or the realization he'd be going to prison for a long, long time. Also, he'd been in the league a much shorter time than many of the other notable suicides, who often killed themselves after retirement. Belcher was just in his third season.

    If he was suffering from a brain disorder from too many hits, it had clearly affected him in a much different manner than any of the others. Has there eve

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      If he was suffering from a brain disorder from too many hits, it had clearly affected him in a much different manner than any of the others. Has there ever been another murder/suicide or some other violent act attributed to a football player suffering from this disorder?

      I was thinking the same thing, but the summary mentions significant findings in people who only played at the high school level. Maybe Belcher was one of these 'lucky' ones?

      Similarly, while I cannot speak to murder, it looks like Junior Seau was suffering from this when he committed suicide.

  • It's a good thing we protect our youth from conditions like this.

    I see your sarcasm and raise you an unfortunate reality [npr.org]. I grew up on the NFL, like many kids did in the 70s and 80s, as our parents and their friends gathered, drank and were merry. I never made a mental connection to football like I did with, say, Star Trek. I didn't ever seek it out, but rather it became background noise and part-reason to gather with friends... and drink. Perhaps a fortunate side-effect of the USA becoming more aware of brain injury could be the replacement of humans with robotic playe

  • Sports builds character. How could it be so bad? These brain damaged players are just slackers. Next your gonna say that vaccinations don't cause autism and Jesus didn't ride dinosaurs.

    Please respond using a car analogy so I can understand WTF you are saying.

    • Sports builds character. How could it be so bad?

      It's especially edifying when both sides pray to the same God for victory.

      (Though perhaps less so than when armies do it.)

  • by kawabago (551139) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @02:01AM (#42188795)
    Then no one will be able to get it.
    • by dintech (998802)
      I think it's more important to take down the sites that link to brain damage that are profiting off people's hard work. It's stealing!!!
  • What's crazy is that women still chase after alpha male guys - and in fact - guys exactly like these - instead of intelligent geeks...

    Go figure?

  • Maybe we should all just start playing sarcastaball. That will be much safer.
  • Also, brain disease.

  • Some obvious solutions that won't be discussed to the "big guys hitting each others heads too hard"
    1) Technology. Now only played above 5000 meters. No idea what Florida is going to do here. Too little O2 to smash each others heads.
    2) Weight limits. 400 pounds to the head is probably worse than 175. Fine get all bulked up but no one plays over 175 pounds.
    3) Socially inappropriate. The cheerleaders play too. In the 75 IQ backwoods "hittin a hot girl on the head" is even less cool than it is in the cit

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