Study – Contact Sports “Greatest Risk Factor for CTE Pathology”

Update December 2, 2015 – The full study can be found here – CTE in Amateur Athletes Study 

The Mayo Clinic has uploaded the following useful video summarizing this study –



Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disorder related to repetative traumatic brain injury is perhaps one of the most troubling risks associated with the world of contact sports.  As the medical industry better understands this progressive disease the link between prolonged exposure to sub concussive blows and the disease becomes ever clearer.  To this end a study was recently published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica showing just how strong the link is.

In the study, titled “Chronic traumatic encephalopathy pathology in a neurodegenerative disorders brain bank” the authors accessed a brain bank and processed samples for tau immunohistochemistry.  Medical records were cross referenced to determine if the samples came from individuals with a history of contact sports participation.  The study revealed as follows

  • 21 of 66 former athletes had cortical tau pathology consistent with CTE
  • CTE pathology was not detected in 198 individuals without exposure to contact sports, including 33 individuals with documented single-incident TBI sustained from falls, motor vehicle accidents, domestic violence, or assaults
  • CTE pathology was only detected in individuals with documented participation in contact sports

The authors conclude that “exposure to contact sports was the greatest risk factor for CTE pathology”.

The study’s abstract can be found here .

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