NFL Players at High Risk for Dementia

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

This is not surprising. Such a conclusion is perfectly consistent with our best theories as well as our casual observations. The fact that persons with a history of head trauma have greater risk for dementia is well documented and the connection to the NFL has been highly speculated for some time.

Now, as reported in the NY Times, the NFL has released the results of their own study on the matter. As part of a phone survey conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research last year, 1,063 retired NFL players were asked questions on a variety of health topics. The conclusions were stark, especially for younger aged retirees.

According to the survey, 6.1% of players aged 50 and older had cognitive impairment which is five times higher than the 1.2% rate of prevalence in the general population. More importantly, 1.9% of younger players, aged 30 to 49, had impairment which is nineteen times higher than the .1% rate seen in general.

These figures are even more alarming than many experts would have presumed and will undoubtedly raise new questions about the prudence of suiting up 9-year olds and sending them onto the little league field to bang heads. I love football as much as anyone but it is looking more and more like the costs of the game are greater than the enjoyment it provides.

1 comment :

  1. Hi Dennis, I was led to your site from Daniel Amen's blog. I like your common sense comment. I spoke at the NFl retired players conference last May, followed Daniel Amen MD, a hard act to follow, who correlated Spect imaging of brain trauma with behavior. I spoke on Brain Pain, the inevitable increased pain derived from chronic opiate medication. I have utilized Daniel's brilliant research and Spect brain imaging in my addiction/brain wellness practice since 2004. Having treated many NFL players with Oxycontin addiction derived from their injuries, I have seen some really ugly, traumatic, Spect scans. At the NFL players conference, a gentleman from Boston University stated that their studies on the brains of deceased NFL players demonstrate high prevalence of tau bodies as seen in Alzheimer's patients. I have read recent studies that suggest Melatonin is effective in assisting removal of tau bodies, I have been prescribing high quality sublingual Melatonin to all my patients [addicted patients always demonstrate decreased blood flow on scan], would you care to comment on Melatonin and tau bodies? Rick Sponaugle, M.D. Founder and Medical Director of Florida Detox and Wellness Institute www.florida