A new study published on Tuesday found that CTE, a neurodegenerative brain disease, was found in 99% of deceased NFL players. The disorder has been found in individuals who have received severe and repeated head trauma. Symptoms may include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, aggression, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts and behavior. A positive diagnosis of CTE can only be determined after an autopsy.

One of the youngest players in the study was former Iowa Hawkeye All-American Tyler Sash. Sash was drafted by the New York Giants and eventually won a Super Bowl with the team but was cut in 2013 after his fifth concussion. Sash returned home and displayed irregular behavior, bouts of confusion, memory loss, and anger issues. Sash was found dead in his home on September 8th of 2015 after an accidental overdose of prescription pain medications. His family donated his brain to researchers who then confirmed Sash did indeed suffer from CTE. He had an advanced form of the disorder rarely seen in someone his age.

Other findings in the new study don't bode well for the game of football either. CTE was found in 48 out of 53 college football players and in 3 of 14 high school players. The study is not without bias, however. All of the brains donated were because the players or family members suspected symptoms of CTE while that player was still alive. It also lacks a comparison group. Because of those two factors, there is no concrete way to say what the overall risk is on the brain playing the game of football.

My son Chase has played tackle football for three years. He plans on playing again this fall. I love watching him and his classmates play the game. But my wife and I agree that if Chase ever suffers a concussion, no matter how minor, he's done. Is that fair? I don't care. Repeated damage to the brain has consequences. It's something many ex-football players should have been told years ago. Let's take the new knowledge we have today and protect a new generation of athletes.

 

[via CNN, NYTimes]