110 NFL Brains with CTE


The results of a study by Dr. Ann McKee into the brains of deceased NFL football players was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. McKee studied the brains of 202 deceased football players of which 111 played in the NFL and 110 showed signs of CTE. Dr. McKee is the Chief of Neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System and the Director of the CTE Center at Boston University.

NeuroNotes has written many blogs about CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and the many famous sports figures who have experienced problems associated with multiple concussions. The signs of CTE are memory loss, confusion, depression and dementia. Dr. Bennett Omalu, a pathologist working in Pittsburgh, examined the brain of Mike Webster, a former Pittsburgh Steeler, whose profound deterioration affected every aspect of his life. Dr. Omalu noted the pathological changes in Iron Mike’s brain and later in the brains of other former football players  he examined. Dr. Omalu struggled to get the NFL to recognize his findings which for many years they fought. The movie, “Concussion”, was based on Dr. Omalu’s research and discovery of CTE and the difficulties he faced to gain recognition of his work which established the foundation for the ongoing research and work related to multiple concussions.

Dr. McKee’s study has identified the positions associated with a high incidence rate of CTE. Linemen represented 44 of the 110 cases and running backs 20 cases. The ages of death in the study ranged from 23 to 89. Some of the individuals were famous players known to many and other names were withheld by family members. The study was composed of donated brains which belonged to individuals who were showing signs of CTE.

Ann McKee, MD, commented “It is no longer debatable whether or not there is a problem in football- there is a problem”. Clearly Dr. McKee’s study confirms the relationship of multiple concussions to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Now, the challenge is for the NFL and other sports organizations to address the problem and eliminate the risks.

Click here to read the New York Times story about Dr. McKee’s study.

About Rolf Gainer Ph.D.

Dr. Rolf Gainer is the founder of the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma as well as the Neurological Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario, in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Gainer is a psychologist with more than twenty-five years of experience in the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. Dr. Gainer has designed and operated innovative rehabilitation programs in the United States and Canada for individuals who have been regarded as difficult to serve. He is currently involved in conducting two outcome studies related to the long-term issues faced by individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. He has presented papers throughout the United States and Canada in many professional conferences and educational forums.

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