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Research finds 96% of dead NFL players have brain disease at centre of concussion crisis

87 of 91 players tested positive for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

The NFL finds itself at the centre of another concussion discussion.
The NFL finds itself at the centre of another concussion discussion.
Image: Gene Puskar/AP/Press Association Images

THE DEBATE AROUND concussion and the NFL is set to intensify after a new study found that 87 of 91 former NFL players were found to have signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative disease widely believed to be the result of repetitive head trauma.

Researchers from the Department of Veteran Affairs and Boston University have found CTE — which can cause conditions such as depression, dementia and memory loss — in 96% of NFL players studied and 79% of all football players.

Indeed, according to Frontline on PBS, the study has found CTE in the brain tissue of 131 out of 165 individuals who, before their deaths, played football either professionally, semi-professionally, in college or in high school.

The research also supported past studies that found the repeat, minor traumas that occur on almost every play between offensive and defensive linemen may pose a greater risk than the obvious, violent, collisions that sometimes lead to concussions.

The figures do, however, come from what is possibly a skewed population as it can only be definitively identified posthumously and those players who donated their brains suspected they had the disease while still alive.

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Steve O'Rourke

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