Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine recently published the findings from their study of 202 donated brains of former football players in the Journal of the American Medical Association (“JAMA”). The study examined former National Football (“NFL”) Players and found that 110 out of the 111 brains exhibited
(“CTE”). CTE is a disease found in the brain of individuals who have suffered repeated blows to the head. What was remarkable about this study was that the CTE afflicted not only NFL players but high school football players as well! Out of the 202 deceased football players’ brains (NFL, college and high school players combined), 88% of them had CTE. Mild levels of CTE were detected in 3 out of 11 of the high school football players. Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed after death, but there are signs that can point to an individual having CTE. Some typical symptoms of CTE, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), are decline of recent memory and executive function, depression, impulsivity, aggressiveness, anger, irritability, suicidal behavior, and dementia. Although there are various symptoms to spot CTE, these symptoms usually do not appear until many years after the initial trauma.
Auto racing associations have also been looking at the effect that crashes have on the drivers’ brains. In 2014, NASCAR, IMSA, and IndyCar mandated a concussion test for all drivers before their race season began. This test measured each driver’s neurocognitive functions in order to compare them to scans taken after the driver were involved significant collisions. This preseason concussion test had previously helped driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2012 when he sustained two concussions in the span of 6 weeks. In a USA Today article, Earnhardt reported that the preseason testing had allowed his doctors to pinpoint exactly what type of brain injury he had suffered and bettered helped them address it.