Study shows evidence of traumatic brain injury in 40% of NFL stars

A new study shows that the players have a higher level of damage than the general population

Study shows evidence of traumatic brain injury in 40% of NFL stars

Image: Stew Milne / AP/Press Association Images

A new report from the American Academy of Neurology has found evidence of traumatic brain injury in players from the National Football League (NFL). 

The research, which was presented at a conference in Vancouver this week, showed that 40% of those players tested in the research had some form of traumatic brain injury.  

Speaking to Reuters, Dr. Francis X. Conidi said that while the evidence does not show chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) "players with traumatic brain injury have a high incidence of going on to develop neurological degenerative disease later on in life", and that the injuries are often a precursor to CTE. 

At the moment, CTE can only be tested for postmortem, and Conidi added that this was the only study to have looked at such a large number of living players.

The research was done using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which measures water flow between parts of the brain, and showed that 17 of the men had signs of damage, or "abnormal brain structure", a much higher level than the general population.

According to TIME, the research also showed that as part of the investigations, players were asked to sit a number of different tests and "half showed serious problems with executive functions such as reasoning, problem solving, planning and attention, while 45% had difficulty with learning and memory". 

Conidi's research also found that the longer a player spent in the league, the more likely they were to have signs of traumatic brain injuries, but that it was not linked to the number of concussions.