Study: Brain disease found in 99 percent former NFL players - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Study: Brain disease found in 99 percent former NFL players

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CTE can be found in individuals who have been exposed to repeated head trauma. (File) CTE can be found in individuals who have been exposed to repeated head trauma. (File)
(CNN) -

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE, was found in 99% of deceased NFL players' brains that were donated to scientific research, according to a study published in the medical journal JAMA.

The neurodegenerative brain disease can be found in individuals who have been exposed to repeated head trauma.

The disease is pathologically marked by an buildup of abnormal tau protein in the brain that can lead to a variety of clinical symptoms.

These include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, aggression, depression, anxiety, impulse control issues and sometimes suicidal behavior.

It can only be formally diagnosed with an autopsy, and most cases, although not all, have been seen in either veterans or people who played contact sports, particularly American football.

"There's no question that there's a problem in football. That people who play football are at risk for this disease," said Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University's CTE Center and coauthor of the new study.

The JAMA study is the largest of its kind and all of those studied were required to have football as their primary exposure to head trauma. 

The study points out potential bias because relatives of these players may have submitted their brains due to clinical symptoms they noticed while they were living.

Out of 202 deceased former football players total -- a combination of high school, college and professional players -- CTE was neuropathologically diagnosed in 177, the study said. The disease was identified in 110 out of 111 former NFL players.

"It certainly can be prevented and that's why we really need to understand how much exposure to head trauma and what type of head trauma the body can sustain before it gets into this irreversible cascade of events," McKee said. 

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