A new study reveals that 41.4% of athletes, ages 30 and younger, show signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative brain disease that can lead to depression, apathy, impulse control issues, suicide, and dementia.
The study of 152 donated brains from athletes who participated in contact sports as youth revealed definitive signs of CTE, suggesting the disorder is far more prevalent than previously thought. These rates are much higher than those found in the general population.
The study is also notable for revealing the first case of a female athlete with signs of CTE.
It’s also worth noting that the same behaviors – such as depression, impulse control struggles, etc. – are prevalent in athletes whether or not they have been diagnosed with CTE.
“This study highlights the importance of assessing the symptoms and clinical presentation of CTE in living athletes who have sustained repetitive head injuries,” said Nsini Umoh, PhD, program director for traumatic brain injury (TBI) research at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
The researchers urged athletic programs to put in place strict guidelines to ensure young athletes exhibiting signs of neurological distress to seek immediate medical care.