Sports

Study: Multiple Concussions to NFL Players Linked to Depression

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File photo of a hit on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith that led to a concussion. (credit: Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

File photo of a hit on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith that led to a concussion. (credit: Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – As discussion continues as to whether Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide was attributed in part to head injuries, football took another hit in the form of new research on multiple concussions being linked to aggression and depression.

A new study focusing on brains with chronic traumatic encephalophathy (CTE) has found a spike in how often a person who has played football or done a stint in the military would go through periods of advanced aggression and depression. Of the subjects examined, 68 of 85 brains, or 80 percent of the participants who played organized sports or did stints in the military, were diagnosed with CTE.

Boston University experts found that 26 percent of the brains with CTE were suicidal at one point of their lives, with seven of them taking their own lives. Memory, judgment and attention were also severely affected by multiple concussions.

In the study, which was published Monday in the December issue of the journal “Brain,” about 35 of the 85 subjects included men who at least played football during high school, with 34 of them having played professional football. The study included research on the brains of NFL Hall of Famers John Mackey and Ollie Matson, both of whom died in 2011. In those 35 cases, nearly half of them were diagnosed with advanced stages of CTE, according to the study. Ninety-four percent of the 34 former football players showed memory loss, difficulties in concentration and attention, and issues in reasoning and organization.

The research comes after concerns of whether a head injury suffered by Belcher in November 2009 had any role in his mindset leading up to the former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker murdering his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, before taking his own life earlier this month.

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