New study shows 41% of athletes who died before age 30 had CTE

A new study shows more than 40% of athletes who died under the age of 30 had CTE.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 3:44 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — A Boston University study shows that about 41.4% of sports athletes who were 30 years old or younger when they died had signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Researchers studied 152 contact sport athletes. Sixty-three of them had CTE. The athletes ranged in sports from football, hockey, rugby, soccer and wrestling. Protecting athletes from CTE has been a focus for different leagues and players over the years. Many people may think brain injuries are a bigger issue for older athletes when safety wasn’t as prominent as it is now, but this study shows even with more protections now, athletes are still at risk of CTE.

High school football is in the first few weeks of their 2023 season. Notre Dame Prep head football coach George Prelock says there has been a massive shift since he started coaching 20 years ago. Prelock says athletes are safer than ever because of training and new technology. “We want to make sure our kids are safe, especially in a contact sport,” he said. “We see it at every level now. The NFL, NCAA, and specifically the high school level. These are still kids and we want to make sure their brains are developing. We want to make sure we keep them as safe as possible.”

Prelock says there are mandatory safety protocols trainers and coaches go through each year. He says coaches are more educated on brain injuries and there are more tests to run on players.

Notre Dame senior quarterback Noah Trigueros says he’s seen a big difference since he started playing football. “In youth football, it wasn’t a concern as much but now it definitely is,” he said. “It was a little more harsh, honestly. I feel like now we are in high school and there are protocols these days.”

Prelock says there is an inherent risk with any contact sport someone plays. He says as newer technology and safety measures come out, they will adapt to keep their kids as safe as possible. “You don’t want anyone to experience pain or hardship,” Prelock said. “I think that’s why we have all these preventative measures and why I think the game is safer than ever.”

Football players had the highest rate of CTE in this study, but it wasn’t only football players or men who had CTE. Eleven women were part of this study, and one had CTE. She played soccer for 18 years.

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