Only a couple years ago, people assumed the brain injury known as CTE was only a problem in the NFL. But recent data is showing that it may be a far more widespread issue.
The idea that someone could get CTE while playing high school football is startling. But it is what recent studies are revealing. Former high school and college players whose brains were tested for CTE came back with surprising results. Here is a breakdown of that information.
Test Results for CTE in Former Athletes
A study released a year ago assessed the brains of 202 former football players. These players came from different levels. 111 of them played in the National Football League, while 53 played in college and 14 only played in high school.
It is important to remember that the study, which was reported on in the Journal of American Medical Association, was not random. It is a study of the brains of now deceased athletes whose families wanted to know if they had CTE. But the study did assess the brains of these athletes using the same procedures.
High CTE Rates for NFL Players
Within the study, CTE was revealed in 110 out of the 111 NFL players whose brains were donated. It is a startling statistics that shows the prevalence of the condition among players who used to play in the league.
There were 53 brains donated of former athletes who only played football in college. Out of these 53 brains, 48 revealed symptoms of CTE. It is scary information for those who previously believed that only a long career that extended into the NFL could have resulted in CTE.
Another stat from the study that is somewhat alarming is that three out of the 14 brains studied of former high school footballers also revealed CTE. The number is nowhere close to the levels of former college or NFL players, but it does indicate that a career of solely playing high school football could have damaged the brains of those individuals for the rest of their lives.
Football Resistant to Change
While there are some rule changes within the NFL that target the way players tackle each other, it appears the “repeated hits to the head” are not going to be solved anytime soon.
Experts now believe that it is hits to the head that can lead to CTE, not necessarily major blows that result in concussions. With so many players in the NFL connecting heads each time there is a huddle, it is hard to see how the game could evolve to the point where the risk is minimized.
Will Parents Stop Kids Playing Football?
The major question that everyone is asking is whether such studies will lead parents to be cautious about the sports their kids play. Many of these studies are very new. Discussion about CTE and football is still in its infancy in American society. It is too early to see the impact.
But with such studies revealing that CTE was found in people who only played football in high school, many parents may worry if the game is safe enough for their kids to play at that level.