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Concussions Cause Permanent Brain Damage

Adding to the evidence that concussions cause permanent brain damage, yesterday's New York Times reports on the latest findings on the effects of cumulative concussions in football players. "New Signs of Brain Daamge in the NFL"

Brain damage commonly associated with boxers has been found in a sixth deceased former N.F.L. player age 50 or younger, further stoking the debate between many doctors and the league over the significance of such findings.

Doctors at Boston University’s School of Medicine found a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brain of Tom McHale, an N.F.L. lineman from 1987 to 1995 who died in May at 45. Known as C.T.E., the progressive condition results from repetitive head trauma and can bring on dementia in people in their 40s or 50s.

Using techniques that can be administered only after a patient has died, doctors have identified C.T.E. in all six N.F.L. veterans between ages 36 and 50 who have been tested for the condition, further evidence of the dangers of improperly treated brain trauma in football.

“It’s scary — it’s horribly frightening,” said Randy Grimes, who played center next to McHale on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for several years. “I’ve had my share of concussions, too. More than my share. My wife says I have short-term memory loss. It’s really scary to think of what might be going on up there.”

The McHale case was announced Tuesday afternoon at a news conference in Tampa — where McHale had lived and where the Super Bowl will take place Sunday — held by Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.

“This is a medically significant finding,” said Dr. Daniel P. Perl, the director of neuropathology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York who is not affiliated with the Boston University group. “I think with a sixth case identified, out of six, for a condition that is incredibly rare in the general population, there is more than enough evidence that football is clearly strongly related to the presence of this pathology.”

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