The longer an athlete plays in the NFL, the greater the risk of memory problems, confusion, depression and anxiety, a new study suggests.
And those who play high-impact positions – usually linebackers, backpacks and special team players – have the largest number and the worst mental and cognitive problems.
The multi-billion dollar competition has come under fire in recent years since the suicide of Aaron Hernandez sheds light on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition that results from multi-head trauma.
Players suffering from the condition can become more aggressive and more susceptible to mental illness and suicide, and a new Harvard University study among 3500 former NFL players suggests that one in eight of them has disturbing cognitive symptoms.
The longer the NFL career of athletes, the greater the risk that they will have disruptive cognitive and mental health problems after retirement, such as memory loss and depression, a new study finds – and those who play high-impact positions are at higher risk (file image )
Aaron Hernandez played tightly with the New England Patriots for three seasons for his suicide in 2017.
His CTE was the worst leading Boston University researcher to have ever seen – but it is hardly the only case.
CTE develops after multiple head injuries, but can only be diagnosed with complete certainty by an autopsy, as was done at Hernandez.
And symptoms that suggest that the degenerative disease usually only becomes apparent until years after the head trauma has been incurred.
The mood and behavior of victims can fluctuate dramatically.
But as the disease progresses and the harmful proteins that are characteristic spread through the brain, patients can develop dementia.
CTE has sparked criticism and alarm in the direction of the NFL.
And those with the most illustrious career may be at highest risk, suggests the new study, published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine.
The Harvard researchers asked nearly 3,500 former professional players about their career and mental status since retirement.
Perhaps it was not surprising that those who had suffered a concussion (or otherwise) were at greater risk in all sorts of ways for mental health and cognitive function problems, even 20 years after they were injured.
In a given season, more than 100 concussions occur during NFL matches – although in 2018 they fell to 135 of the 190 cases of the previous year.
Not everyone suffers from a concussion – or even much concussion – suffers from CTE, but the more they suffer, the more they run the risk of cognitive symptoms.
In total, one in eight retired players interviewed by Harvard reported symptoms such as memory loss, vision problems, depression, dizziness, and confusion associated with chronic brain disease.
The risks were significantly higher for the men with the longest career.
A third of those who played professional football for 10 years or more reported these symptoms.
However, not all football positions are equally dangerous.
Kickers, gamblers and quarterbacks had a relatively low risk of cognitive problems.
But the players whose duties involved repeated tackles – backs, linebackers and special team players – had considerably higher risks.
Interestingly, although a longer professional career was very predictive of their cognitive and mental health – every five NFL seasons increased their depression risk by nine percent – starting the game young had no effect anyway.
& # 39; The results of the study emphasize how critical it is to continue to find ways to prevent head injury in the first place because of the many downstream and long-term effects on physical, cognitive and mental health, & # 39; said Dr. Ross Zafonte, lead author of the study.
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