HomeAFLCTE Found In Half Of Donated Sportspeople’s Brains

CTE Found In Half Of Donated Sportspeople’s Brains

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CTE Found In Half Of Donated Sportspeople’s Brains

The Australian Sports Brain Bank has revealed over half of the brains of sportspeople donated to them have shown signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), as a result of repeated head impacts.

Throughout the first 21 brain donors to the Brain Bank, all who participated in sports with risks of repeated head impacts, all but one had a form of neurodegeneration, with 12 being found to have CTE.

The findings, which were published in the Medical Journey of Australia, notably found three of the sportspeople with CTE were 35 years old or younger, with six of the 12 people with CTE having died by suicide.

The research provides further discussion points about the risks of repeated head impacts in sport and the dangers of CTE, which has been shown to cause behavioural, mental, and cognitive impairments.

Before the release of this research, there were only minimal cases of confirmed CTE in Australian sportspeople in recent years, further signifying the importance of continued research and caution with high-risk sports, according to University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital neuropathologist, Michael Buckland.

“The 21 donors came from a range of sports, but 17 of them either came from AFL or one of the rugby codes,” Dr Buckland said.

“Almost all of our donors, they or their families, signed up for the brain donation because they were exhibiting signs or symptoms that something was wrong with their brain.

“So it’s very much a selected population, and we can’t make any claims about the prevalence of CTE in the sporting community.

“Our main purpose of the Sports Brain Bank was to actually see if Australia sports players also had CTE… and once we looked at that at-risk population, CTE was easy to find,” he said.

Discussing the athletes under 35 years old, Dr Buckland said: “There were definitely younger people that had played under modern concussion guidelines.”

“The other disturbing thing was that it’s not just restricted to professional players, there were people that had played at either the amateur level or the semi-professional level that also had CTE,” he said.

Expanding, Dr Buckland said the evidence surrounding CTE research suggests the number of years a person competes relates to their risk of developing CTE, instead of the number of concussions they have had, due to minor sub concussive impacts.

“While a player might have maybe a few concussions over a couple of years, they’ll probably have thousands of sub concussive blows,” Dr Buckland said.

“They’re fine, they get up and keep playing, and it’s just a good contest of the ball or whatever.

“But it’s likely it’s the cumulative effect of those many, many sub concussive hits that leads to CTE…

“How do we reduce cumulative lifetime exposure to repetitive head injury?

“And should we be seriously debating the age of first exposure to sports-related repetitive head injury?” he said.

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