Analysis of autopsy data shows that cumulative number and force of head impacts in American football players are associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Players who spend more time in certain positions and are exposed to higher levels of linear and rotational acceleration may be at greater risk for CTE, says Daniel Daneshvar, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital , who is a co-author of the study to be presented in the 2022 Alzheimer’s Association. International Conference.
Daneshvar said defensive backs appear to be facing the highest risk due to the variety of blows they face on the field. “We can now potentially take interventions to reduce people’s risk by reducing the number and power of hits,” he told MedPage Today.
CTE is associated with a history of repetitive head impacts, including persistent impacts in contact or collision sports such as American football and boxing, and is diagnosed as Neuropathology. Previous research in football players has also linked dementia in CTE to repeated head impact exposure.
In their analysis, Daneshvar and colleagues studied 656 former American football players with an average age of approximately 60 years. Most (69%) had CTE pathology, and All donated their brains to the Department of Veterans Affairs-Boston University-Concussion Heritage Foundation Brain Bank.
The player’s next of kin provides details on how long and where the player is in youth, high school, college and professional football.
Through a literature search of studies using helmet accelerometers, the researchers calculated average hitting frequency, linear acceleration, and spin during 1-year play for each level-position combination acceleration. These values were combined with each player’s career exposure to determine the cumulative frequency of head impacts, cumulative linear acceleration, and cumulative rotational acceleration. CTE (P
The findings suggest that head impact intensity is an important factor in the development of CTE pathology.
Daneshvar noted that reducing head impacts includes delaying the debut of tackles by school-age players, as well as reducing the number of shots and power levels during practice, which can account for two-thirds of impacts.
This analysis is impressive but has significant limitations, observed Dr. Keisuke Kawata of the Indiana University School of Public Health in Bloomington, who was not involved in the study.
“Validity is definitely low when it comes to this type of study” because it relies on often flawed helmet impact data, Kawata told MedPage Today. “But it’s a good start. “
Forwards aren’t necessarily the most dangerous, and some wide receivers take more hits, Kawada said. He noted: “Team play, coaching style and philosophy, and individual aggression play important roles in influencing exposure to head impact.”
Looking to the future, “the current study Neither will nor should it affect the rules and policies surrounding football as it needs to be validated and replicated with different methods and designs,” Kawada noted.
“On the other hand, there are a number of studies that have tested mitigating overexposure to head impacts, whether by reducing the duration of summer camp or eliminating twice-a-day practice,” he added.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance medical and science journalist in San Diego.
This study was conducted by the National Institute on Aging, National Center for Advancing Translational Science, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Alzheimer’s Association, Nick and Lynn · The Buniconti Foundation, Concussion Legacy Foundation, Andlinger Foundation Grants Foundation and World Wrestling Entertainment.
Daneshvar and Kawata did not disclose any information.