"Overall, although retired NFL players have been the focus of more attention into the potential late-life neurological consequences of repetitive head trauma than athletes in any other sport, the risks for these retirees remains largely hypothetical," Randolph writes.
The list of symptoms that have been associated with CTE "is so broad as to be essentially meaningless in any attempt to define a clinical syndrome," Randolph writes. Some of these symptoms are found in the healthy population, while other symptoms have been observed in a variety of neurological diseases. The broad range of CTE symptoms includes attention problems, paranoia, executive impairments, suicidality, memory loss, language impairment, visuospatial impairment, apathy, gait disturbance, dysarthria (speech disorder), parkinsonism, post-traumatic stress disorder, headache, depression, impulsivity, explosivity and aggression.
Randolph concludes: "CTE has received substantial media attention and appears to have entered the American lexicon as a verifiable disease, despite a lack of clear epidemiological data on increased risk of dementia in boxers or football players, a lack of controlled pathological studies to substantiate neuropathological finding as occurring at an increased rate in these retired athletes, a lack of consistent pathological criteria and a lack of specific clinical criteria for diagnosis."
Randolph calls for a carefully controlled epidemiological study. Such a study would, for example, compare a large, randomly selected sample of retired NFL players to a sample of demographically matched men who had not played football or other collision sports. If such a study found retired players were at higher risk of neurological problems, the players then could be followed over time, with further imaging and neuropathological investigations to characterize any identified diso
|Contact: Jim Ritter|
Loyola University Health System