In their study, researchers examined four post-mortem brains from teenage athletes who had sustained head injuries prior to their death and four teenage athletes without recent head injuries. They discovered such impacts caused leaky blood vessels and brain inflammation.
"This paper is the best evidence to date CTE is not triggered by concussion, but rather by hits to the head", said lead researcher Dr.
Dowd says game rules could also be changed in the future to prevent CTE after this new research.
"We may need to re-define what a concussion is or come up with another name for it to keep people safe", Chong said.
"It provided pathological evidence for the first time of the importance of the sub-concussive hits", Dr. Dawn Comstock, Professor Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health.
"Study results shed light on the origins of CTE and relationship to traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion and subconcussive head injury", a BU press release on the study said.
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"Collectively, these results raise concern that repetitive neurotrauma, independent of concussion, may induce early CTE brain pathologies, even in teenagers and young adults", reseachers wrote in the study. There have been studies earlier that show that CTE has occurred without the signs of a concussion.
The researchers also conducted experiments that re-created sports-related head impacts on laboratory mice.
Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez's brain showed classic signs of Stage 3 CTE.
CTE is a condition that can only be diagnosed upon death. But numerous studied brains came from players who experienced clinical CTE symptoms when alive.
"We can not overstate the absurdity of allowing 7-year-olds to receive 500 head impacts a season just because they happen to be getting exercise at the time", added Chris Nowinski, the foundation's chief executive officer who played football at Harvard University.
Goldstein said he hoped this new information would be taken into consideration by football policy makers, professional players and parents, noting that it was important to now focus on ways to.
"We kept this game alive and I want to keep it alive", said Hall of Famer Phil Villapiano, formerly of the Oakland Raiders. Sometimes called CTE, it is a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head, and has been detected in more than 85 percent of tackle football players studied over the past 10 years, according to the foundation.
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