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Brain damage evident in many retired NFL players

Big tackles on the football field might impress Pittsburgh Steelers fans, but evidence that football could be linked to long-term brain disorders among players continue to mount. The director of the Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology presented findings to fellow neurologists from a study of 40 former NFL players. Brain scans revealed damage in more than 40 percent of the men to the white matter in their brains.

Another 30 percent of the players in the study exhibited abnormalities in the long arms of neurons. These traumatic brain injury conditions could weaken communications among different brain regions. Cognitive tests administered to the participants produced results showing that half of the former players experienced difficulty with problem solving, planning, attention and reasoning. Researchers identified memory and learning problems in 45 percent of them.

The NFL players in the study had played at the professional level for an average of seven years. How many concussions each man had experienced did not correlate to the presence of brain injuries. The research team leader speculated that sports brain injuries arose from ongoing and repetitive small hits that added up to trauma. He suggested that players ranging from students to professionals should limit head blows, especially during practice.

Although concerns about head injuries among athletes have been rising, a person could suffer a brain injury in many situations, such as a car accident or a fall on a slippery surface in a supermarket. When the injury is attributable to another party's negligence, an attorney can often help the victim seek appropriate compensation.

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