Bill Belichick on CTE study: 'I'm not really a medical expert'

Jonathan Hernandez
July 28, 2017

"I think the league addressed it", Belichick said at Gillette Stadium Wednesday. In fact, it is only in the last five years or so that I have developed an interest in the game - largely as a result of marrying into a family of rabid Buffalo Bills supporters. I'm not saying it's bad for kids, I'm just saying that maybe that has an impact. Eventually, the condition described by Martland was named dementia pugilistica, and now is known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE is still not completely understood by health professionals, but other possible signs and symptoms may include depression or apathy, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts or behavior, irritability, aggression, trouble swallowing, vision and focusing problems, and trouble with sense of smell, according to Mayo Clinic.

At what point does the mounting evidence that football-related head injuries cause brain disease require some type of intervention? The NCAA settled a class-action concussion lawsuit past year, agreeing to spend $75 million on medical monitoring of college athletes and prevention research.

Depending on the severity of the blow, the symptoms of a concussion can range from a mild headache, blurred vision, and some disorientation to a loss of consciousness, convulsions, and transient amnesia.

The researchers noted that the study had limitations including, that the subjects' brains were donated by their families and that families are more likely to opt into the study if the players had showed symptoms of CTE. National Football League players made up 111 of the brains studied, and 110 were found to have CTE. When the league settled a massive concussion lawsuit with thousands of former players in 2013, it didn't have to acknowledge any wrongdoing. For collegiate players, 91 percent were found to have CTE.

Green Bay - Concussions have been at the fore-front of the NFL and football landscape in recent years and how the long-term effect they have on football players long after their career is over.

"In a convenience sample of 202 deceased former players of American football who were part of a brain donation program, a high proportion were diagnosed neuropathologically with CTE", the authors write. The actual rate of CTE among living athletes is still unknown.

The condition, which now can be diagnosed only by taking brain tissue from a dead subject, has been diagnosed in former players including Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau and Pro Bowl safety Dave Duerson, who both committed suicide. "In Alzheimer's disease, there are tau protein deposits in certain areas of the brain than are different than what you see in CTE".

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