With the football season in full swing, fans and players in Newton and across the country are enthusiastic about watching and participating in the sport. That, however, doesn’t assuage the dangers that are inherent and are becoming a growing concern for those who play or have played it. The risk for injury in any contact sport is inherent, but it is greater in tackle football due to its violent nature. Studies are moving forward on players present and past to determine how widespread the issue of head injury and the resulting brain damage can be.

A new study was released showing that only four former National Football League players out of 91 who took part did not have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease of the brain. The research, conducted by Boston University and the Department of Veterans Affairs, also found that out of all football players, 79 percent had CTE. It is believed brain injury results from the continued hits to the head that often occur in the sport. Research was also done on 165 former football players who have died. Of those, 131 had CTE. These players either played high school, college, semi-pro or professional football. Four of every 10 played in what is commonly known as the football “trenches” — the offensive and defensive lines. This supports the idea that traumatic brain injury can accumulate from repeated smaller hits.

It can be harder for researchers to fully determine the amount of brain damage a person has suffered while that person is alive, making some of the information open to interpretation and requiring more study. A number of former players agreed to donate their brains to forward research into the amount of damage that can result from playing football. Normally, CTE is very rare. Doctors involved in the study have stated that there is a consistency between the sport, its violent hits to the head, and the number of former players who are found to have a brain injury before or after their deaths.

Although coaches at every level are trying to teach their players to take precautions to avoid long-term brain damage with proper technique and concussion protocols, that does not eliminate the raw data. People who played football at any level and might be suffering from brain damage might not even see the correlation between the two. Speaking to a legal professional can help to determine if there is liability and assist in filing a lawsuit.

Source: pbs.org, “New: 87 Deceased NFL Players Positive for Brain Disease,” Jason M. Breslow, Sept. 18, 2015