The NFLfinally admitted that studies on deceased football players "certainly" establish a link between football and the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or "CTE." This represents a major shift in the NFL's official position on the matter while a federal appeals court is considering the adequacy of a proposed settlement involving retired players suffering from chronic brain injury.
The proposed settlement would allow compensation to up to 20,000 NFL retirees, paying an average of $19,000.00 per claim, and upwards of $5 million for those with severe conditions like Parkinson's or Lou Gerhig's disease. About thirty percent of all retired players would qualify for compensation, according to the NFL. Critics of the proposed settlement are calling for changes that would allow current players to make claims, given the mountain of scientific evidence establishing this cause and effect relationship.
There is no way to diagnose CTE in living individuals. Only an autopsy can confirm the disease, which is a progressive degenerative disease found in people who have suffered a severe blow to the head, or several minor head strikes. Researchers hope to develop methods to diagnose the condition in the living within five to seven years.
Recent studies show that CTE is more widespread, affecting not only pro athletes, but high school players subjected to repetitive head strikes. Symptoms can develop months or even years after an athlete retires, and include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulsiveness, aggression, depression, and in the most advanced stages, dementia.
If you want to learn more about brain injuries, the Brain Injury Association of Oregon provides excellent information for brain injury survivors and their families.