Startling Statistics Regarding the Long-Term Effects of Repeated Impacts to the Head in Contact Sports

Guest written by Owen Lennon, PT, as commentary to an article, July 25, 2017, in The New York Times titled: 110 N.F.L. Brains.

The article discusses a study about N.F.L. players and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.), the disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head. C.T.E. causes a variety of symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, depression and dementia. The study references players who died as young as 23 and as old as 89, and found that “of the 202 players, 111 of them played in the N.F.L. – and 110 of those were found to have C.T.E.,” which can be diagnosed only after death.

As a physical therapist, although admittedly a selection bias to the referenced study, this still raises significant concern for players and their families. With the roll-out of Professional Physical Therapy’s post-concussion syndrome rehabilitation program, we have seen multi-sport athletes as young as 8 years old who are dealing with the devastating effects of concussions and prolonged recovery.

Community awareness of the signs and symptoms of a concussion are improving; however, those outside the medical community still may not recognize the long-term effects of repeated, smaller impacts. C.T.E. is a horrible disease. The strong correlation among professional athletes in contact sports should give pause to those involved regarding the long-term risks associated with repeated high-velocity impacts. Physical therapists have the knowledge and experience to discuss concussions with athletes and make recommendations for a healthy recovery.
To view the entire article click here.


Owen Lennon, DPT, OCS

Regional Clinical Excellence Director

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