NFL Players at Greater Risk for Dementia

Thursday, October 01, 2009
NFL plaBirk, Lofa Tatupa and Sean Morey have pledged to donate their brains to research

Playing football can be bad for the brain, and the National Football League is starting to own up to this fact. After years of disregarding independent medical studies on the long-term effects that the game has on players, the NFL commissioned its own investigation—and the results were not positive. The study, conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, found that NFL players are far more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other similar neurological disorders than men who don’t play the game. When compared to other men aged 30-49, players were 19 times more likely to develop memory-related conditions.

“This is a game-changer—the whole debate, the ball’s now in the NFL’s court,” Dr. Julian Bailes, chairman of the neurosurgery department at the West Virginia University School of Medicine and former team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers, told The New York Times. “They always say, ‘We’re going to do our own studies.’ And now they have.”

The findings could have significant ramifications not only for the NFL, but also for the thousands of young athletes who play football at the collegiate, high school, and lower levels. Hundreds of football-related concussions are sustained each week throughout the nation, including many that go undiagnosed and untreated.
                                                                                                                                                    -Noel Brinkerhoff

Dementia Risk Seen in Players in N.F.L. Study (by Alan Schwarz, New York Times)
Three Active NFL Pro Bowl Players to Donate Brains to Research (Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Boston University press release)


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