A recent discovered CTE in over 40% of youth, high school, and college athletes
The GIST: A recent Boston University study discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in over 40% of youth, high school, and college athletes who were exposed to repeated traumatic head injuries and died before age 30. The researchers examined 152 brains, marking the largest case series on athletes who died young.
The results: Of the 152 brain donors, 63 were diagnosed with CTE at the time of death. Ranging in ages from 13 to 29, nearly all brains showed at least early stages of the disease. The majority of athletes primarily played football, while a smaller number played ice hockey and soccer.
- The scientists also notably diagnosed the first case of CTE in an American woman athlete — an anonymous 28-year-old collegiate soccer player. This adds to the growing list of female athletes with the condition after footballer Heather Anderson became the first woman in pro sports to be diagnosed with CTE in 2023, following her death at age 28.
The future: As the popularity of women's sports grows and CTE research becomes more robust — especially as scientists try to close the medical research gender gap — so will the rates of head injuries. Prevention and proper diagnosis is key to protecting athletes across the board, and health tech will likely become increasingly important to the future of contact sports.
- One example of this is the Q-Collar, a device that stabilizes the head and neck during play in order to prevent TBIs and was worn by soccer stars Quinn and Rocky Rodríguez during the FIFA Women's World Cup. The love of the game isn't going anywhere, but a little love for the players will go a long way in protecting their health.