New Boston University Study Finds Evidence of CTE in 41% of Athletes Who Died Young

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New BU study finds evidence of CTE in 41% of athletes who died young

New BU study finds evidence of CTE in 41% of athletes who died young01:15

BOSTON – A new study published in JAMA Neurology finds evidence of brain damage in athletes who died young, and it could provide insight for parents of children who play contact sports.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive head trauma. 

And in the largest study of its kind, researchers at Boston University looked at the brains of 152 young athletes who had been exposed to repetitive head impacts from youth, high school, or college sports and who died before the age of 30. 

They found that 41% of them had evidence of CTE, usually mild. 

Most were amateur athletes who played football, ice hockey, soccer, rugby, or wrestled.

Symptoms of CTE can include memory loss, depression, aggression, problems with impulse control, and suicidal behavior and the most common cause of death among those studied was suicide. 

Experts say the longer a young person plays contact sports, the greater the risk and parents need to weigh the pros and cons of participation in these activities. 

Also, any young person who begins to develop symptoms of brain injury should seek medical attention right away because we know early treatment can improve outcomes.

Mallika Marshall, MD

Mallika Marshall, MD is an Emmy-award-winning journalist and physician who has served as the HealthWatch Reporter for CBS Boston/WBZ-TV for over 20 years. A practicing physician Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Dr. Marshall serves on staff at Harvard Medical School and practices at Massachusetts General Hospital at the MGH Chelsea Urgent Care and the MGH Revere Health Center, where she is currently working on the frontlines caring for patients with COVID-19. She is also a host and contributing editor for Harvard Health Publications (HHP), the publishing division of Harvard Medical School.

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