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Football Players Suffer 'Shocking' Brain Damage: 'Enormous Public Health Concerns'

Football Players Suffer 'Shocking' Brain Damage: 'Enormous Public Health Concerns' Read Transcript

How bad is football for the brain,

a new study from the "Journal of the American Medical

Association" looked at the brains

of more than 200 diseased former football players,

including more than 100 who played in the NFL.

Mark Martin has this story.

MARK MARTIN: Mike Adamle spent half a dozen years in the NFL

as a running back in the 1970s.

He recently retired from sportscasting,

and is living with what he says doctors

believe may be chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

The only thing that I remember was

that he said you have symptoms that are concurrent with CTE.

MARK MARTIN: CTE is a progressive degenerative brain

disease associated with repeated head trauma.

Currently, it can only be confirmed after death.

Adamle says life is up and down.

He fights against the depression, frustration,

and forgetfulness with exercise, diet, and cognitive


He also relies on the support of friends and family.

We've got a fraternity of players

who just call each other up wherever we need it,

and for lack of a better phrase, talk each other off the ledge.

Because you do.

You do really get paranoid and depressed.

MARK MARTIN: In a new study published

in "The Journal of the American Medical Association,"

Dr. Ann McKee of the VA Boston health care

system, and the Boston University CTE Center,

studied the donated brains of deceased former football

players, who played in high school, college, and the pros.

Doctors examined their brains for signs of CTE

and the relatives of players provided information

about athletic histories, mood, and cognitive symptoms.

Pathologic evidence of CTE was found

in 177 of the 202 former players, a whopping 87%.

That includes 110 of the 111 NFL players,

whose brains were studied.

The main results were there was

a shockingly high percentage of CTE

amongst the brain donors, that is

we found 110 out of 111 former NFL players

had diagnostic lesions of CTE at autopsy.

We found 91% of college players, and we

found even evidence of CTE in some high school players,

about three of 14, or 21%.

So this says to us that CTE is a problem.

It is a problem associated with football.

MARK MARTIN: The study says it has several limitations.

Researchers say it's important to remember that brain bank

donors don't represent the overall population

of former football players.

Adamle wants the game of football to be safer.

Whether they can do that over a period of time

in the next 20 years, I'm not certain.

I don't think anybody is certain.

So what I would like to see going forward

is a comprehensive collective determination

to solve the CTE problem, that is how can we diagnose it

in young players so they can stop playing when they're

already developing signs of it, and how can we

treat it in players that are concerned that they already

have it.

These, to me, are enormous public health concerns

that we need to address right away.

MARK MARTIN: Mark Martin, CBN News.

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