By Ken Reed

A new brain scanning technology called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used by researchers in a study of 40 living ex-NFL players. The scans revealed brain damage in 43% of the subjects. In addition, 50% of the players demonstrated “significant problems” with executive function, 45% had learning or memory problems, and 42% had attention and concentration problems.

The rate of traumatic brain injury — often a precursor to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — in the football players was “significantly higher” than that of the general population, according to Dr. Francis Conidi, one of the study’s authors.

“This research in living players sheds light on the possible pathological changes consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy that may be taking place,” said Conidi.

At this point, full-blown CTE can only be diagnosed after death by a brain autopsy. Of the 91 NFL players who have donated their brains for study, 87 were found to have had CTE after examination of their brains posthumously.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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