Study shows CTE in former football players’ brains, but results may be misleading

May help improve athlete safety

A recent study found a dangerous disease in the brains of about 90-percent of football players, but experts say the results can be misleading.

Researchers from Boston University looked at the donated brains of deceased former football players of all ages for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

However, many of the brains studied were contributed because family members suspected their loved ones had CTE, which could potentially make the study bias. And some players who repeatedly suffer concussions never develop the disease.

Even if the results are misleading, local health experts say the study can help future players.

“I think what it does is it brings to light that this is a problem, and it really helps us to really concentrate our research in the future on the prevention and promoting good brain health,” said Gundersen Health System Lead Athletic Trainer Joe LaMere.

Health experts also say these kinds of studies help push better sports protections forward. One local coach says while football safety has progressed substantially in the last few decades, it’s probably a good idea to still err on the side of caution.

“You get kids out there in 3rd and 4th and 5th grade, when your body’s really developing, and you’re playing tackle football. I’m not saying it’s bad for kids, I’m just saying that maybe that has an impact. We just don’t really know, and we don’t have enough information at this time,” said Holmen High School Head Football Coach Travis Kowalski.

Symptoms of CTE range from attention deficits and disorientation to memory loss and erratic behaviors.