Long term Effects of Concussions

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in several published studies.

One player’s neurologist has said multiple concussions from 2002 through 2005 resulted in permanent and degenerative problems with memory and depression. This player died at 45 after he shot himself in the chest in what police ruled an accident. Subsequent analysis of his brain tissue confirmed the presence of neurofibrillary tangles that had already begun to affect his behavior and memory, said Dr. Ann McKee, an associate professor of neurology and pathology at the Boston University School of Medicine and a co-director of the new brain-study center. Of the six former N.F.L. players’ brains that have been examined in this manner, this player’s was the fifth to be found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy. (The condition can be confirmed only by post-mortem tissue analysis; X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging tests cannot yet detect it.) Because each player died relatively young, from 36 to 50, they provided an opportunity to examine brain abnormalities that are exceedingly rare in someone of that age without a history of repetitive brain injury. Players at all levels of football are known to not reveal their concussions for fear of being removed from games or being seen as weak.

The new brain injury and concussion study center, at my alma mater, Boston University, is being financed primarily by the university and a grant from the National Institutes of Health. It will operate in collaboration with the Sports Legacy Institute, a nonprofit organization and Dr. Robert Cantu, a co-director of the Neurological Sports Injury Center at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.

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