STATEWIDE – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE has taken all levels of football by storm the past few years.
“It can come out in forms of emotional disorders, anger disorders, psychiatric disorders, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers,” Eastern Maine Medical Center health program manager JP Stowe said.
As the game involves do the numbers. Boston University released a study this summer that showed 110 out of 111 former NFL players had CTE.
“110 out of 111 guys in the study I don’t care how selection biased that is, former NFL and University of Maine defensive lineman Mike DeVito said. “110 out of 111 guys that’s a bad percentage of players who have it.”
The ‘it’ DeVito is referring to is CTE.
“And that’s just one study at the pro level so we don’t know about college, we don’t know about high school and the effects at those levels,” DeVito said.
The data shows that concussions have been linked as a cause for CTE since the discussion started, but a new study released this Fall has taken a look at a different level of football.
One that could affect kids.
“Over the course of a season, high school, collegiate lineman can have one thousand head hits per season,” Stowe said. “A youth football player will probably see 100 to 200 hits but even though that’s ten percent of a high school athlete that’s still a lot for a young child.”
Boston University released another study in September and it found that kids who start playing football before the age of 12 could suffer brain damage later in life.
The study examined 214 former football players who did not participate in any other contact sport. 103 of those players played football through college. 43 played through high school. 68 played in the NFL. The average age of the players was 51.
The results showed that players who started playing football before the age of twelve had increased risk of behavioral and cognitive issues.
But, CTE and concussions weren’t the primary focus of this study.
“The sub-concussive hits are the ones that we as athletic trainers doctors worry about a lot more than the actual concussions,” Stowe said.
Sub-concussive hits happen on every play as they are the little hits that show no symptoms that a big hit would.
Stowe says the inability to spot a sub-concussive hit is what is scary for medical professionals, especially given the stats produced by the study.
“If you have those sub concussive hits over time it’s going to to effect the brain especially when it’s developing, that’s really the worst time,” Stowe said.
It is important to note that players in the study played football at a time where safety was the last thing on teams minds, whereas it is paramount in the sport today.
Despite the evolution of the game, the numbers still beg the question.
At that young of an age, with the potential health risks down the line. Is it even worth it?
In part two of Big Hits Bigger Problem a budding local youth football star and his mom answere that question.
Their response is candid on a subject many try to avoid.