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Top Medical Journal Urges Doctors To Cut All Ties With Football

Discussion in 'Neurology' started by Ghada Ali youssef, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. Ghada Ali youssef

    Ghada Ali youssef Golden Member

    Dec 29, 2016
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    • Springer is a leading medical journal, specializing in orthopedics
    • The authors have published an editorial slamming American football
    • They tell doctors to stop treating players and sponsoring teams
    • It comes after a report which analyzed 111 deceased players' brains and found 110 of them had signs of CTE, a football-linked disease which causes dementia

    A top medical journal has urged surgeons to cut all ties with football - from NFL to high school level - due to the growing swell of research showing the sport causes devastating brain injuries.

    The senior editors of Springer, an orthopedics journal, said doctors should not perform physicals for college players and institutions should not sponsor professional teams.

    The call comes in the wake of Boston University's landmark study on deceased players' brains, showing 110 of the 111 they examined had signs of CTE, a neurodegenerative disease which causes dementia.

    'Football is not consonant with the best values of our profession,' lead author of the report Seth S. Leopold, a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, concluded.

    'Is it right for us to support a game—through our presence on the sidelines or in the form of marketing and advertising dollars that splash orthopedic logos on practice jerseys and football stadiums—that causes grave harm to at least 9 percent of those who play it professionally?'

    Earlier this year, the journal said children should not play football.

    'At the time, we wondered whether our recommendation went too far,' Leopold wrote. 'New evidence suggests that perhaps we did not go far enough.'

    They say that, while CTE is prevalent in other sports such as MMA and boxing, football 'merits special attention' since orthopedic surgeons are so entrenched in the sport.

    Dealing with diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of injuries, they are heavily relied on by players to keep them in shape during the season.

    This involvement includes performing preseason physicals on school players, covering games from the sidelines, and marketing campaigns in stadiums.

    'We have no particular axe to grind against football, and we are attentive to the research being published about other sports that may eventually be proven to cause as much harm, or more,' the authors write.

    But they add: 'In the meantime, we feel obliged to deal with the compelling data from the study about American football, which are consistent with earlier epidemiological reports. The pieces all fit, and they clamor for a response.'

    The editorial comes amid a boom in research on football's ties to brain injuries - in both the NFL and amateur leagues.

    Last month, St Michael's Hospital in Canada found contact sports have a significant impact on young athletes' brain structure and function.

    Researchers found that body contact and brain damage are directly correlated - with sports that involve more contact causing more significant changes.

    The research team looked at preseason brain scans of 65 total varsity athletes.

    Of those 23 athletes played collision sports, meaning that players have routine and purposeful body-to-body contact.

    Another 22 played contact sports, meaning contact is allowed but isn't an integral part of the game. And the final 20 played non-contact sports.

    None of the participants were otherwise unhealthy.

    The team found that the athletes who played collision and contact sports had visible differences in structure, function and chemical markers than typically associated with brain injury.

    Their brains also looked considerably different than athletes who did not play contact sports.


    Last month, the NFL cut ties with the National Institutes of Health study into concussion after years of feuding over critical researchers.

    Despite vowing in 2012 to invest $30 million in brain injury research, the football league has only paid $18 million, and its contract will expire at the end of August.

    The move came two years after a huge row between the two organizations over Boston University neuroscientist Robert Stern, who is a vocal critic of the NFL and received a chunk of the NIH grant to examine former players.

    Just days before the NFL and NIH announced the end of their partnership, Dr Stern's research team published the explosive report, revealing 110 out of 111 deceased NFL players had signs of CTE in post-mortem examinations.

    Dr Stern's Boston University team is leading the groundbreaking and ambitious research project to identify whether there is a direct link between concussions on the field and neurodegenerative diseases in players - including the late Aaron Hernandez.

    They are focusing on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a little-understood condition a progressive neurodegeneration associated with repetitive head trauma. It has been linked to ALS (also called 'locked-in syndrome') and Alzheimer's.

    Now, the team has released their first major findings from post-mortem examinations on 202 deceased players' brains, which were donated to research.

    The study included a number of former NFL players, including Bubba Smith, Ken Stabler, Frank Wainright, Dave Duerson, and Junior Seau.

    They also interviewed next-of-kin to learn about each player's clinical symptoms, to compare with their findings.

    The players, who lived to an average of 66 years old, had all played for a median of 15 years - from high school to professional leagues.

    Overall, 177 of the brains they analyzed (87 percent) had CTE.

    It was by far the most prevalent among NFL players: they found 110 of the 111 NFL players in the study (99 percent) had the hallmarks of CTE.

    College players had the second-highest rate, with 48 out of 53 college players' brains (91 percent) diagnosed with CTE.

    They also diagnosed CTE in seven out of eight Canadian Football League players (88 percent), nine out of 14 semi-professional players (64 percent), and three out of 14 high school players (21 percent).

    All three of the high school players had mild CTE.

    The majority of all the other players had severe pathology.

    Among those with mild CTE pathology, 96 percent had behavioral and mood symptoms, 85 percent had cognitive symptoms, and 33 percent had signs of dementia.

    In those with severe CTE pathology, 89 percent had behavioral or mood symptoms or both, 95 percent had cognitive symptoms, and 85 percent had signs of dementia.

    'In a convenience sample of deceased football players who donated their brains for research, a high proportion had neuropathological evidence of CTE, suggesting that CTE may be related to prior participation in football,' the article concludes.


    Retired NFL stars Leonard Marshall and Matt Hasselbeck announced in May they would be donating their brains to CTE research.

    Marshall, a two-time Super Bowl winner and defensive lineman for the New York Giants, said the sport has left him struggling with short-term memory loss and erratic behavior at age 55.

    More than 1,800 former athletes and military veterans have pledged to donate their brains to the Concussion Legacy Foundation for CTE research.

    Aaron Hernandez, a former Patriots player, committed suicide in his prison cell in April. His family has donated his brain the Boston team to see whether he was suffering from CTE.

    Nick Buoniconti said earlier in May he wouldn't have played football if he had known about the risks it posed to his brain health.

    The 76-year-old former middle linebacker for the Patriots and Dolphins was diagnosed with dementia in October 2016.



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