With area high school football teams set to begin practice within the next few days, a new study is once again highlighting the possible risks that can come with playing the game.
The research, appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, puts new light on chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a progressive brain disease brought on by frequent hits to the head.
Researchers at Boston University examined the brains of more than 200 deceased football players from the high school level to professional leagues. The results showed that close to 180 of them showed signs of CTE. The disease itself can lead to dementia, memory loss, and other problems.
Youth football instructors said that’s one reason they have been stressing new ways to play the game that avoid helmet-to-helmet hits.
“The thing about it is, if you can teach them at the young age of 5 to 12, they’ll understand the game by the time they get to the high school and the college level and the pro level,” Harold Johnson with SC Midlands Pop Warner said, “and that’s what it’s all about — making sure they understand that the game of football has changed.”
The Boston University study did not conclude that all kids who play football are doomed to develop CTE. The brains contributed to the study were all donated by families of deceased football players who all strongly felt their loved ones had brain damage.
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