Study Links Even Mild Repetitive Hits to the Head, Not Concussions, to CTE

A Boston University study published Thursday has found the strongest link to date that ties repeated hits to the head—and not damage from a concussion—to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease that slowly spreads and kills brain cells and has been fingered in a rash of serious ailments among National Football League players. According to the results of the study conducted by the university’s CTE Center and published in the journal Brain, 20 percent of the sampled brains found to have CTE were from people who didn’t report ever having a concussion. The findings raise additional questions about the effectiveness of protective gear used in sports like football, and medical protocols used to clear athletes after head injuries. CTE Center Director Ann McKee explained that there is only one to prevent CTE risk: “There must be a reduction in the number of head impacts.”