Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Small FSU study finds big evidence of head trauma in NFL retirees

A study of the brains of 40 retired NFL players has found evidence that damage and impairment is widespread in those who have played the game professionally.

The study is small, but nonetheless one of the largest to examine the brains of former players while they're alive. The new research, to be presented today at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, looked at the retired players, most for less than five years, with an average age of 36.

Even among such young retirees, researchers from Florida State University's School of Medicine found that 43 percent, or 17 of the former players, had structural abnormalities in the connective tissue of their brains — the white matter that speeds signals among cells — that is considered reliable evidence of traumatic brain injury. Brain scans showed that 30 percent, or 12, had disruption of the nerve axons — the protuberances that extend from one brain cell to another to transmit electrical impulses — consistent with brain injury.

And in tests of cognitive performance, roughly half of the former players showed significant problems of executive function — a measure of a person's ability to maintain attention, plan and organize. Specifically, 45 percent had measurable problems with learning and memory, 42 percent had problems with attention and concentration, and 24 percent had problems with spatial and perceptual function.

The retired players ranged in age from 27 to 56, and had played in the NFL anywhere from two to 17 years. (The average was seven years.) The study's lead author, FSU's Dr. Francis X. Conidi, called it "one of the largest studies to date in living retired NFL players and one of the first to demonstrate significant objective evidence for traumatic brain injury in these former players."

There was no control group, which would give experts a clear basis for comparison among similar-aged men who had not engaged in contact sports. And it was not clear how the study's participants were recruited, and whether they had sought treatment for neurological problems in advance of their recruitment into the study. Those factors, in addition to the study's relatively small size, make it difficult to drawer larger conclusions.

Small FSU study finds big evidence of head trauma in NFL retirees 04/11/16 [Last modified: Monday, April 11, 2016 9:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Twice the talent: IMG football expands to two teams this fall

    Footballpreps

    BRADENTON — When IMG Academy fielded its first varsity football team in 2013, there were 78 players on the roster. Since then, the roster has nearly doubled. With no junior varsity it was difficult for some to find playing time, and players do not come to IMG to sit the bench.

    The solution? Start another …

    Tre'von Riggins is a 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive lineman who transferred from Lakewood High to IMG Academy in Bradenton.
  2. Rays power way to 5-1 win over Orioles on eve of crucial road trip

    The Heater

    St. PETERSBURG — The Rays didn't get many hits in the early going Wednesday, but they got a couple that went a long way and that was enough to beat the Orioles, 5-1.

    Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) hugs catcher Jesus Sucre (45) after Souza's solo home run in the seventh inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. 'That's not me': Jaguars' Dante Fowler apologizes for arrest

    Blogs

    Former Lakewood High and Gators star Dante Fowler, now a defensive end with the Jacksonville Jaguars, spoke Wednesday for the first time since his arrest in St. Petersburg last week, apologizing to his team and fans.

    Dante Fowler faces misdemeanor charges of simple battery and criminal mischief from his arrest, and entered a written plea of "not guilty" on Tuesday.
  4. Bucs' Josh Huff has DUI citation dismissed, attorney says

    Blogs

    Bucs receiver Josh Huff continues to resolve the legal issues that cost him a job with the Eagles last year, as the DUI citation against him was dismissed Tuesday, according to his attorney.

    Bucs receiver Josh Huff makes a first-down catch against the Saints, one of three games he played in for Tampa Bay last season.
  5. HomeTeam 100: Players 21-30

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA - Jesuit linebacker Anthony Nelson will help lead the Tigers into the 2017 season. Taken 5-17-17 by Scott Purks