Former college football players from over 100 schools have CTE according to the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
The foundation, which studies concussions and brain injuries, said Wednesday that 138 of 152 former college football players studied at the Veterans Affairs-Boston University-Concussion Legacy Foundation brain bank have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, more commonly known as CTE.
CTE is a degenerative condition that can be caused by repeated head trauma. CTE can lead to memory loss, dementia and erratic behavior, though it can only be officially diagnosed by direct examination of the brain after death.
The disease and its connection to sports like football where head trauma can repeatedly occur became more common after an HBO “Real Sports” feature on the topic and “Concussion,” the movie starring Will Smith that was released in 2015.
The 91 percent of brains with CTE is similar to numbers released by the foundation in September 2015 regarding NFL players. The CLF said then that 96 percent of NFL players’ brains tested positive for CTE. The foundation said two-thirds of the former college players who were found to have CTE also played professionally.
It is, of course, imperative to note that the numbers are only relevant to the brains studied by the foundation. It’s reasonable to assume that the majority of brains for head trauma study are donated because of possible issues. But given the rate of discovery, it’s unreasonable to assume that CTE isn’t common among all people who have played football for a considerable amount of time.
The CLF said it found cases of CTE from players at 39 of the 64 Power Five conference schools, including schools like Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Texas, USC and more.
“This information is being released to raise awareness that CTE is not just an issue for professional football players,” CLF co-founder Chris Nowinski said in a statement. “The data should not be interpreted to say that players from these schools are at greater risk than other college players. Instead, the data shows the widespread reach of this disease, and the commitment by the alumni and their families of these schools to support CTE research by participating in brain donation.”
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