I didn't know his brain was being autopsied. Man, tough situation for every one involved. I'm not a neuropathologist, but it's surprising to see that level of insult in a 20-something brain - football player or otherwise.
I'd love to hear CTE discussed more broadly than just in terms of NFL players. An article I read sited that 110 out of 111 NFL players autopsied have shown evidence of CTE. I'd love to understand how different that is from a pool of hockey players, soccer players, basketball players, and the general population.
It's important to note that those 111 players were in the study because they suspected they had CTE before they passed. It's a very biased sample, which to their credit the researchers have made very prominent when discussing their results. So it's unlikely 99% of all players have CTE, but it's still probably a shockingly high percentage.
I agree that appropriate control groups are crucial to figuring out how much of this is coming from football. The best we can say at this point is that CTE appears to be extremely rare in brains that are autopsied for other reasons.
Fair points. SI is reporting that 270/425 brains studied at VA Boston were consistent with CTE. I hadn't read the recent paper you referenced, but it was in a major journal (JAMA) and I'm glad to hear they were forthright in reporting their findings.
personally, i hope they simply ban football given it is a blood sport.
I don't want it banned, though if CTE is found to originate at early ages insurance costs at lower levels could quickly become so onerous that it dies out on its own.
Yeah, as you said, there's just so much unknown and longitudinal studies will take time. I wonder if legal issues from these cases alone could comprise the NFL's status, though, before harder evidence is presented. And I'm sure research efforts will identify earlier effects, tricky as it may be with developing brains.
I'm passionate about this issue, and Hernandez's case in general. Without intending to be inflammatory, I thought it was worthwhile to seriously consider how mental health issues contributed to his actions prior to this story. With his trauma history and likely (related) personality disorder, I would imagine that increases risk of further brain insult (like CTE). That's something else to think about -- athletes coming from impoverished backgrounds are less likely to have the cognitive, or brain "reserve" that can challenge early pathology.
With what I've read about the researchers mentioned in the article (McKee and Stern), they're going to continue to pursue their mission aggressively, in the lab and courts. I tend to agree that athletes should be given a choice to play, but with major caveats: a) research efforts need to ramp up, b) athletes and families need to be aware of all potential risks involved, and c) far greater protection should be applied in youth sports, where kids often don't have the liberty to choose whether or not they play.