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New study reveals significant brain damage in retired NFL players

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Brain injuries can happen in many different ways. From a car accident, to an assault, to a sports injury, there are many ways that a Virginian might suffer from brain damage. In recent years, the possibility of head trauma from sports injuries, specifically in football, has gained increased attention.

A recent study conducted by Dr. Francis Conidi of the Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology reveals that retired National Football League players experience a significantly greater rate of traumatic brain injuries than does the general population.

The study examined 40 retired NFL players via diffusion tensor MRI scans. Of those 40 players, 17 of them, roughly 43 percent, showed signs of traumatic brain injury. The diffusion tensor MRI scans looked at damage in the brain's white matter via how water molecules moved in the brain tissue. The study results revealed that the levels of water movement in the 17 players with TBI was 2.5 standard deviations below appropriate healthy levels.

Additionally, the players, who ranged in age from 27 to 56, were tested via memory and thinking tests. Approximately 50 percent of the retired players demonstrated significant problems with executive function on the thinking skills test, and roughly 45 percent had reported problems on the learning or memory tests. On average, the men had played for seven years in the NFL, and most had been retired for less than five years.

The study is significant not only for those retired NFL players with brain injuries, but also for other persons who may have experienced brain trauma. The study's results may help doctors better understand brain injuries and ultimately treat, or potentially even prevent them.

Source:, "Nearly Half of Former NFL Players Show Signs of Brain Injury," Ed Susman, April 19, 2016

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