Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NFL Players at High Risk for Dementia

Attention Imaginary Readers: This has a slightly different tone than my usual posts as I pulled it straight from the Brain Today Blog where I breakdown daily news stories about Brain Health.

This headline is not surprising. Such a conclusion is perfectly consistent with our best theories as well as our casual observations. The fact that persons with a history of head trauma have greater risk for dementia is well documented and the connection to the NFL has been highly speculated for some time.

Now, as reported in the NY Times, the NFL has released the results of their own study on the matter. As part of a phone survey conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research last year, 1,063 retired NFL players were asked questions on a variety of health topics. The conclusions were stark, especially for younger aged retirees.

According to the survey, 6.1% of players aged 50 and older had cognitive impairment which is five times higher than the 1.2% rate of prevalence in the general population. More importantly, 1.9% of younger players, aged 30 to 49, had impairment which is nineteen times higher than the .1% rate seen in general.

These figures are even more alarming than many experts would have presumed and will undoubtedly raise new questions about the prudence of suiting up 9-year olds and sending them onto the little league field to bang heads. I love football as much as anyone but it is looking more and more like the costs of the game are greater than the enjoyment it provides.

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