According to a report from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ brain repository, 76 out of the 79 deceased NFL players examined were found to have brain disease, PBS reports.
The reports says the number more than doubles the number of players previously found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
CTE occurs when repetitive head trauma begins to produce abnormal proteins in the brain known as “tau.” The tau proteins work to essentially form tangles around the brain’s blood vessels, interrupting normal functioning and eventually killing nerve cells themselves. Patients with less advanced forms of the disease can suffer from mood disorders, such as depression and bouts of rage, while those with more severe cases can experience confusion, memory loss and advanced dementia.
NFL players Dave Duerson of the Chicago Bears, Mike Webster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Junior Seau of the Chargers have all been diagnosed with CTE. On Monday it was reported that a brain scan showed Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs likely had CTE. The 25-year-old shot and killed his girlfriend in December 2012 before killing himself hours later.
PBS reports that retired NFL players and their beneficiaries have until Oct. 14 "to decide whether to opt out of a proposed settlement in the class-action concussion case brought against the league by more than 4,500 former players."
- Sarah Barshop