The cognitive decline of football players

October 1, 2009 at 7:23 am 1 comment

Former players of the National Football League who are in their 30s and 40s are nearly 20 times as likely to suffer from memory-related diseases, including Alzhemeir’s, when compared to the national population.

This is one of the frightening findings of a report from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. More than 1,600 former professional players participated in the health survey. Even though the report was commissioned by the NFL, the league is questioning its reliability. The NFL hopes to publish the results from its own “rigorous study of 120 retired [football] players” within a few years.

In the meantime, Dr. Julian Bailes, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the West Virginia University School of Medicine and a former physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers notes that he found similar links between football participation and dementia/cognitive decline four years ago.

“They always say, ‘We’re going to do our own studies.’ And now they have.”

Sean Morey, an Arizona Cardinals player who has been vocal in supporting research in this area, said: “This is about more than us — it’s about the high school kid in 2011 who might not die on the field because he ignored the risks of concussions.”

The NYT article on this issue can be found here.

A NYT video on “high school football’s hidden danger” for youth participants can be found here. Parents and players may want to pay attention to the fact that 50% of high school football players have suffered a concussion, and 35% have had more than one.

**Related: How to blow through $20M.


Entry filed under: play, think. Tags: , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Lauren  |  October 1, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    I’ve been following this subject for a while – mostly because I have many jouster friends (yes, men in armor on horseback) who have sustained some serious head injuries. One of these doctors has written a book on the football injuries, and my jouster friend read it after OI told him about the medical findings. He saw everything they mention in his own (and friends’ ) behaviors. These findings seem to be true, although “they can’t be proven”… yet.

    I think football teams, owners, and sponsors refuse to acknowledge that they are paying for these men to mentally/biologically maim themselves.


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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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