Groundbreaking Mayo Clinic study links youth contact sports with CTE
Mayo Clinic researchers in Florida have discovered a link between youth contact sports and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease caused by repetitive brain trauma.
The study, published in this month's issue of Acta Neuropathologica, found evidence that contact sports played as kids and young adults — like football, boxing and basketball — can lead to the development of CTE. The brain disease affects mood, behavior and cognition.
Another recent study found links between CTE and former professional football players, but this was the first time researchers had investigated whether it affected amateur athletes.
According to Mayo researchers, one-third of the 66 males with documented participation in contact sports had evidence of CTE pathology. By comparison, not one of the 198 individuals without documentation of participation in contact sports, including 66 women, showed signs of the disease.
“The purpose of our study is not to discourage children and adults from participating in sports because we believe the mental and physical health benefits are great,” said the study's lead author, Kevin Bieniek, a predoctoral student at the Mayo Graduate School in Jacksonville.
“It is vital that people use caution when it comes to protecting the head. Through CTE awareness, greater emphasis will be placed on making contact sports safer, with better protective equipment and fewer head-to-head contacts.”
You can hear more from Bieniek in the video below (produced by Mayo Clinic):