Neurological deterioration in American football players
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Neurodegenerative diseases are believed to occur at an increased rate for those who participate in contact sports. More recent attention has been given to players of the National Football League after it was proposed that they are at an increased risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Parkinson’s Disease (PD), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Though multiple studies have found a correlation between concussive and sub-concussive events and the development of CTE, the validity of these is being questioned. Many of the brain specimens available to evaluate have been samples of convenience or were donated by concerned family members of those who were displaying signs of neurodegenerative diseases potentially biasing the results. Additionally, recall bias is a concern in some studies due to athletes or family members of athletes giving histories of concussive or sub-concussive events many years after players had retired. Current evidence regarding neurodegenerative diseases, including CTE, and their development in NFL players is not sufficient to make concrete conclusions. It has become clear that more information regarding CTE and its progression needs to be gathered. The proposed study extends the analysis originally completed by Lehman et. al to determine if there is an increased risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases in NFL players who have played at least five seasons when compared to the general population. Investigators will use the Life Table Analysis System (LTAS.NET) from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to analyze this cohort. It is impossible to investigate CTE as a cause of death directly; it has only recently been studied and will, therefore, not be found on death certificates as a listed cause of death. Thus, this study will use other neurodegenerative diseases (PD, ALS, AD) as a possible marker for CTE.