Study: Concussions Not the Main Cause of CTE

TBI is the main culprit, according to newly released research

Brand-new research indicates that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) says that concussions are not the cause of the brain-altering condition.

Rather, the study contends, it’s the traumatic brain injuries (TBI) experienced by people beyond those who participate in contact sports. The study authors, including Lee Goldstein, MD, PhD, call for further research into the concussion vs. TBI question.

“The results may explain why approximately 20% of athletes with CTE never suffered a diagnosed concussion,” said Dr. Goldstein. “The concussion is really irrelevant for triggering CTE–it’s really the hit that counts.”

CTE is a progressive, degenerative disease found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma. The condition has received a great deal of press in the past several years, particularly as it pertains to former professional football players. This latest research, however, indicates that “football causes CTE” may be greatly oversimplifying the issue.

“It’s a big problem for the [National Football League],” Dr. Goldstein told the Washington Post, “a bigger problem for amateur athletes, and even larger problem still for the public.”

Led by Boston University researchers and published today in Brain, the study analyzed the brains of teenagers with head injury. Boston University has been at the forefront of concussion and head injury-related research, thanks in large part to the work of Dr. Christopher Nowinski, a former college football players and professional wrestler who now serves as the executive director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

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