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99 percent of deceased NFL players in study suffered from brain disease

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new study was released Tuesday about football and brain damage. In it, a staggering 99 percent of the NFL player brains examined in the study showed signs of a disease associated with repeated blows to the head.

These brains were donated by deceased players to Boston University, which is leading the research into the potential connection between concussions and this disease. Those brains have been donated over the past decade.

The study in the Journal of the American Medical Association also included brains of deceased college and high school football players, among others.

The data showed 111 NFL player brains examined, with 110 show signs of CTE, the debilitating brain disease.

Out of 53 college player brains examined, 48 had CTE.

“When I saw the study it was confirmation that players and families that have been affected by playing football,” said Dan Chamberlain, a partner with Cohen and Malad in Indianapolis, who represents several retired NFL and college football players as they battle head injuries.

In all there were 202 brains examined and 177 had CTE.

Many scientists argue repeated hits to the head can lead to a buildup of protein called tau and they say it can lead to memory loss, aggressive behavior, and suicidal thoughts; a disease called CTE.

“My child played high school football and if I had to do it over again, I would never do that,” said Chamberlain.

But while the study published Tuesday is alarming, it doesn’t prove repeated hits to the head cause CTE. Plus, many of the former players who donated their brains showed symptoms beforehand.

And it remains unknown how many years playing football can increase the danger.

Only three of 14 high school football player brains had CTE in the study. But to Chamberlain, there is a takeaway for parents.

“As a parent, is there any acceptable amount of traumatic brain injury that you would put your child through? And the answer has to be no. You cannot do that,” Chamberlain said.

In an email, the Indiana High School Athletic Association has a message for Hoosier parents, saying its coaches in all sports have been trained on concussion symptoms and that the protocol is that students are removed from the game if they have these symptoms.

The student must be cleared by a trained health care professional before coming back into the game.

As for football, the IHSAA said the game is safer today than ever before.

Indianapolis-based NCAA and USA Football did not respond to WISH-TV’s request for comment.

The NFL did send out a statement that said in part that the league “will continue to work with a wide range of experts to improve the health of current and former NFL athletes.”

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