Though relatively few of the brain injuries sustained by Americans happen on the football field, football-related head trauma has been making a lot of headlines recently. Current and retired college and professional players are increasingly concerned about the lifelong effects of head injuries they suffered during their playing days. And many fans are struggling to reconcile their love of football with the devastating effects of conditions like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

One of the challenges of studying CTE, a form of brain degeneration linked to contact sports, is that there is no proven way of diagnosing it while the suspected patient is still alive. So finding a way to measure the long-term effects of football-related concussions while the player is still alive would be invaluable for players and their families.

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A new study of retired NFL players suggests that more than 40 percent of ex-football players have signs of traumatic brain injury. The small-scale study used MRIs to examine the brains of 40 former players aged 27 to 56, most of whom had played in the league in the last five years and averaged seven-year careers, along with slight more than eight concussions.

According to U.S. News and World Report, the MRIs revealed damage in the white matter of the brains of 17 of the subjects. Twelve of the players showed evidence of disrupted nerve cells, harming the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other. Cognitive tests showed thinking problems in many of the subjects as well.

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Most people reading this are unlikely to suffer a TBI playing football, but they may be vulnerable to a brain injury in a car crash, work accident or other everyday disaster. If that ever happens to you, you may be able to pursue another party for compensation. An attorney can help you sort out your options.

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