College football players are 5 times more likely to report cognitive impairment, 2.5 times more likely to experience recurrent headaches, and 65% more likely to have cardiovascular problems in their lifetime than their non-football playing peers. Additionally, mortality from brain and other nervous system cancers was 4 times higher in former college football players than the general population.
mRNA decay may facilitate tau-induced damage to the brain and associated apoptosis that contributes to a range of neurodegenerative disorders. Researchers found the mechanism can be altered pharmacologically, providing a new target for the development of therapeutics to prevent or slow the progression of some neurodegenerative disorders.
Mislocalization of the TDP-43 protein alters the genetic instructions for UNC13A. The findings provide a potential new therapeutic target for the treatment of ALS and frontotemporal dementia.
Researchers explore how changes in concussion research have impacted sports and player safety.
White matter hyperintensities were more common in athletes who played more contact sports or had more head injuries and concussions during their sporting careers.
Blocking substance P following a head injury can prevent tau protein tangles from forming in the brain and lower the risk for CTE and other head injury associated dementias.
Cognitive symptoms such as problems with memory and executive function, but not mood or motor disorders, were associated with CTE pathology. The findings advance the ability to diagnose CTE in living people. Until now, post mortem analysis was the only reliable method to detect CTE.
Longer career length and playing specific positions put NFL players at greater risk of developing cognitive problems and mental health issues. Playing for 10 or more seasons increased the risks for depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment twice as much than those who played for a single season. For every five seasons of play, the risks increase 20% for cognitive impairment. Those most at risk are running backs, linebackers and those who played special teams positions.
Sustained hits following one season of playing football are enough to cause structural alterations to the brain. When players sustain a concussion, structural brain integrity decreases, and levels of tau increase. Researchers say, while concussions are a prime concern for those who play football, sustained hits also pose a threat to neurological health.
PET imaging of former NFL players who exhibited cognitive decline and psychiatric symptoms linked to CTE showed higher levels of tau in areas of the brain associated with the neurodegenerative disease.
Researchers say a single season of playing high school football is all it takes to cause microscopic alterations to the structure of the brain.