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Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and Football: A Dangerous Mix

By Grant Law Office on May 28, 2020

two youth football teams playing each other

When your body is stopped mid-motion, like when it is flung forward in a car accident or during a tackle on the football field, your brain doesn’t stop moving until it has hit the inside of your skull. The impact can result in brain damage, and if this motion happens enough times it can result in degeneration, otherwise known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This degeneration can leave a person’s life in shambles and, since it can only be diagnosed during an autopsy, you may not even know you’re suffering from it.

What Is CTE?

CTE doesn’t develop immediately following a blow to the head. It’s unlikely your brain will start to degenerate after one rough game of football. Rather, it’s believed that repeated trauma over the course of years or even decades will cause the syndrome to eventually develop. Unfortunately, because the only way currently to properly diagnose CTE can only be done once someone has died, not a lot is known about it. There are some common symptoms, however, which include:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression
  • Loss of emotional stability
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Abuse of substances
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Behaving impulsively

Destructive mental illness is common in people that have CTE, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is not a syndrome that can be treated or even properly diagnosed. Once you have developed it, it will be with you for a lifetime.

CTE and Football

Football, and other high impact sports such as boxing and hockey, can cause incredible trauma to the brain. Unfortunately, no amount of safety gear will ever be able to prevent CTE, as the issue comes from the brain continuing forward as the body comes to a sudden halt.

This is a particularly common issue with football players, as the nature of the sport involves a great deal of tackling and sudden stops to forward motion. In a case study performed by Dr. Jesse Mez at Boston University in the past decade, 177 out of 202 donated brains of football were shown to have developed CTE. That is roughly 87% of players who suffered from the condition and, on average, these players practiced the sport for about 15 years.

While many of these players operated at a semi or fully professional level, 48 of the players who developed CTE only ever played at a college level and never went on to play afterward. This means that even if you only play football while in school you are still at risk for developing the syndrome

When CTE Continues to Impact Your Life

As far as medical professionals currently understand it, there is no way to recover from CTE. The symptoms you develop, including short-term memory loss and suicidal tendencies, will be with you for a lifetime. For some people, football is a hobby, but for others, it’s a way of life. Whatever the case may be, no one should be suffering such a debilitating illness simply for enjoying a sport.

It is not uncommon for coaches and team owners to be negligent towards their players, making an already risky game even worse. If you have developed a brain injury while playing a sport due to another person’s negligence, we may be able to help. Our attorneys at the Grant Law Office have worked with many clients who have faced difficult and traumatic injuries. Call our firm at (404) 995-3955, and let’s discuss your case.

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