Study finds NFL-Alzheimer’s link


Research unveiled at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Paris today shows that NFL players are more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, than men who didn’t play football.

Time magazine reports that the study gave former football players a standardized test for Alzheimer’s symptoms and found indications of dementia in a much higher percentage of them than is found in the population as a whole.

Christopher Randolph, the professor of neurology at Loyola University Medical Center who led the study, says mild cognitive impairment is associated with the kind of repetitive head trauma that football players experience. He also said that football helmets don’t protect against injuries caused by the brain hitting the inside of the skull.

Randolph also says that this kind of brain injury is caused by repeated minor blows to the head, not necessarily by blows to the head that cause concussions, and “it’s conceivable that by changing the ways players drill in practice, we could change things.”

18 responses to “Study finds NFL-Alzheimer’s link

  1. Good post and we need to keep learning/hearing about the long term effects of concussions.

    I remember getting a concussion in a football game while at the AF Academy (we played tackle intramural football/full pads back in the 60’s – not sure if they still do).

    It happened in the first quarter – and I reportedly played a good game (at Tight End – caught a long scoring pass and also DE/LB – made a bunch of tackles) – but didn’t remember anything – other than midway through the 4th quarter – looking at the mountains and wondering: Am I back in Oregon?

    Ahh – no those mountains look different. Oh – I am in Colorado……………………….

  2. So Mr. Harrison, do you pledge not to complain about the NFL when this happens to you? I mean since you are against all of the new safety measures one can be safe to assume you don’t mind if you lose all of your memories in your old age.

  3. In related news, smoking is not good for pregnant mother’s or people with heart beats.

  4. Why is does the title of the article say there’s an Alzheimers link (which is very severe), yet the study actually showed no actual proof of increased cases of Alzheimers??? There’s a big difference between “mild cognitive impairment” and Alzheimers.

    Not only that, but this study apparently only asked the players questions about their memory and no actual CAT Scans were done. Considering the fact that former players are looking for better retirement benifits, I’d say they had a very big incentive to bomb the test on purpose…

    I’m not saying they don’t have an increased risk of memory loss, but this flawed study simply doesn’t prove it…

    This kind of propoganda has been used before… Players say their life span is only 55 yrs old, BUT THAT’S NOT TRUE!! Its actually 73 yrs old! The 55 yr lifespan comes from players who have died since the Superbowl Era and only counted players who have actually died! The players who are 70 and 80 and alive aren’t included in that number!!

    I’m only 30 yrs old, and that’s like saying people who graduated from my highschool class have a life expectancy of 24 yrs old (because 3 died early and the rest of us are still alive). While technically that’s true based on the data available, but the truth is its just twisting numbers to garner support for the players…

  5. SHOCKING so what you are saying is that it is not good to get hit in the head? Well to do what you love AND GET PAID WAY TOO MUCH FOR IT YOU TAKE THAT RISK WILLINGLY. If you don’t like it get am ordinary job with an ordinary salary. I bet studies also show their is a link between being losing limbs/lifes and being in the military. I wonder if there are any studies looking for links between greed and NFL owners/players?

  6. When does the study come out that reads: “Despite earning Millions of dollars more in their careers, former NFL players declare for Bankruptcy nearly 4 times more frequently than Non-NFL players”??

    These guys have a risky job for sure, but they need to PLAN to save for the future and their healthcare. They make enough money to do so, but they CHOOSE to spend it on jewelery, cars, houses, and lavish parties…

  7. jimmysee says:
    Jul 18, 2011 8:04 AM
    Has a similar study been conducted on boxers?


    You don’t need a study when you have guys like Ali walking around. Although, I’m pretty sure there are plenty studies on boxers.

  8. It would be interesting to find out who provided the funding to the Alzheimers organization for this study. I would not be surprised to find out it was the NFLPA with the revelation of; ““it’s conceivable that by changing the ways players drill in practice, we could change things.” coming right on the heels of the NFLPA seeking less contact in practice and training camp.

    Certainly, football players are generally going to be more beat down than counterparts that did not play, just as my knees and back are prematurly aged from 8 years in the Army. You know what would *really* cut down on any associated injuries from Football? Banning Football.

  9. Do you know there’s a link between people who don’t read books and Alzheimer’s? How many of today’s NFL players read? Does Vince Young have dimentia already? Jamarcus Russell?

    Has anyone considered the NFL test subjects are not the brightest people on the face of this earth in the first place?

  10. Right. So now we conclude that it’s all related to contact. It couldn’t be a party lifestyle … full of booze and wild times. It couldn’t be from getting a free lifetime pass on all academic pursuits. No… only the popular one.

  11. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if there is a connection with Alzheimer’s and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a major concern, both in what is known about it and what *isn’t* known about it yet.

  12. It is time for the NFL to mandate safer helmets, based on technology that has existed for decades.

    The NFL already knows helmets with padding added to the outside of the rock hard plastic shell, will reduce the shock players feel due to impacts with other hard surfaces…such as helmet to ground contact, helmet to knee contact, helmet to helmet contact.

    The NFL has used the same helmet technology and standards for over 50 yrs…a rock hard plastic shell lined with padding and air cushions on the inside.

    Willie Lanier, Mark Kelso and Steve Wallace used helmets with padding added to the outside and all 3 players credit those improvements for extending their careers, which could have been cut short due to frequent and sometimes severe head trauma, including concussions.

    The NFL has known for 40 yrs, that padding added to the outside of helmets, reduces the impact felt by the players, yet the NFL refuses to mandate the improvement.

    Rather than Roger Goodell putting on a stripped shirt every week and reviewing game films in search of contact “Roger” deems as illegal and worthy of a fine…ROGER needs to do the obvious and mandate that all NFL players will wear helmets with padding added to the outside.

    Albert Einstein defined INSANITY as…”doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”…

    …for over 50 yrs, the NFL has used the same basic helmet design, a rock hard plastic outer shell, with various forms of padding and air cushions located on the inside of the helmet…and the NFL calls each new helmet an “improvement”.

    Just to show how badly the NFL has managed the issue of helmet safety…this commissioner wants to change the way the game is played…moving toward “two hand tap” vs “tackle” football…

    …in other words, the NFL can’t make this helmet design safer, so they are left with trying to change the game, rather than update the quality of their helmets.

    ROGER GOODELL and the NFL are INSANE, when it comes to helmet safety.

    …jmho, mac

  13. We do need to learn more. Doesn’t mean that the rules of the game need to be changed. If anyone thought that massive players hitting each other repeatedly was healthy, they were deluding themselves. Players should sign a waver accepting the risks and vowing not the sue the league or they should find another sport to play.

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