Apr 13, 2016
New Research on Retired Players Finds Brain Injuries

In one of the largest studies with living retired NFL players thus far, the participants received brain scans and performed thinking and memory tests. Results from this study will be presented during the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting.

According to a media release from Medical News Today, the study’s findings show signs of traumatic brain injury in more than 40 percent of the participants. The retired NFL players’ ages range from 27 to 56, with an average of 36 years. The majority of the 40 players included in the study have been out of the NFL for less with four years, and played in the NFL for an average of seven years.

“We found that longer careers placed the athletes at a higher risk of TBI,” study author Francis X. Conidi, MD, DO, of the Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology and Florida State University College of Medicine, said. “This research in living players sheds light on the possible pathological changes consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy that may be taking place.”

The participants were given advanced (diffusion tensor imaging) MRIs to measure the amount of damage to the brain’s white matter, shown by movement of water molecules in the brain tissue. Traditional MRIs were also used to examine disruption of the nerve axons–30 percent of the retired players showed evidence of this type of damage.

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