For years, we’ve seen football players plagued by a neurodegenerative disease called chronic traumatic encepholapathy, or CTE. As the medical community has tried to learn more about the disease, progress has been slow and a new study suggests that CTE might not even be cause by concussions, as was previously thought.
Dr. Lee Goldstein is a researcher at Boston University where he specializes in degenerative orders, specifically Alzheimer’s disease — which shares many of the same symptoms as CTE. Goldstein recently published a study on CTE in the medical journal “Brain” and his findings showed that concussions might not have that much of an influence on CTE. The more important factor are blows to the head in general. Goldstein told The Washington Post, “the concussion is really irrelevant for triggering CTE.”
Studies have suggested before that CTE and concussions might not be linked as tightly as we thought, but Goldstein’s research is the best evidence that the medical community has seen so far. He says that his work is the first evidence “that we have where we have controlled experiments where we can make that case very strongly and convincingly.” The top-notch researcher says his findings might explain why “approximately 20 percent of athletes with CTE never suffered a diagnosed concussion.” He believes that it’s important for doctors to examine concussions and CTE differently, saying “my analogy for this is it’s like having health officials focus on the hacking cough in smokers rather than the lung cancer.”
CTE has been a hot topic lately, as we’ve seen studies showing that it’s rampant in former NFL players. Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, who was convicted of murder before committing suicide in prison, had stage 3 CTE and he was only 27 at the time of his death. Over the summer, a group of researchers examined the brains of 111 NFL players and published a study showing that 110 of them suffered from CTE.