NFL Players Have Cognitive Impairment in Retirement at 40 Percent Rate According to Study

If you’re a football fan, at this point cover your eyes. Every time a new study is released talking about brain health and the NFL, the news just gets worse and worse.

The latest such study to hit the academic press, which studied former NFL players living in Texas, revealed that 40 percent of the subjects researchers examined showed some signs of cognitive impairment. Published on the JAMA Network and conducted by the Center for BrainHealth and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the study looked at 34 former NFL players with a mean age of 61.8 years.

However, there is some good news. Many of the symptoms displayed in the study were consistent with depression. According to Dr. John Hart Jr., the lead author of the study, many of the players did not even associate their symptoms with depression — which is very much treatable with medication.

“You’ve got to ask for symptoms of depression,” Hart said, according to Deadspin. “Those guys kill themselves and they’re not going to come in with a group of symptoms and say, ‘I’ve got this problem.'”

So, if players can recognize their symptoms for what they are, improvement in quality of life can be achieved for NFL retirees living with problems. However, this was the first study to make a link between impairment and damage to the connective white matter in the brain.

Either way, though there seems to be some reasonable steps that can now be taken to help those already suffering, the study just raises more questions for the long-term health of football. Ultimately, it looks like the number of hits a player takes leading up to and during an NFL career invariably makes future cognitive issues dangerously more likely.

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