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Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have discovered a "significant" and "surprising" amount of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in adult men who participated in amateur contact sports in their youth, the clinic announced Tuesday.
CTE is a progressive degenerative disease caused by repetitive brain trauma. The injuries lead to difficulties with cognition, emotions and behaviors that don't become noticeable until years later.
"About one-third of these men whose brains had been donated to the Mayo Clinic Brain Bank had evidence of CTE pathology," the Mayo Clinic stated in a press release.
The study, published in the December issue of Acta Neuropathologica, links amateur contact sports such as football, boxing, wrestling, rugby, basketball, baseball and others played while in school with the development of CTE.
"If 1 in 3 individuals who participate in a contact sport goes on to develop CTE pathology, this could present a real challenge down the road," Kevin Bieniek, the study's lead author, said. "It remains to be determined if the brain changes produce any observable effects on behavior or cognition of the former athletes."
Bienek stressed that the purpose of the study is not to discourage children and adults from participating in sports, but rather for those to use caution when it comes to protecting the head.
"Through CTE awareness, greater emphasis will be placed on making contact sports safer with better protective equipment and fewer head-to-head contacts," he said.
To read more about the study and how it was conducted, click here.
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