Far from innocuous, invisible injuries, concussions confer tremendous brain damage. That damage has a name: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).---CTE has thus far been found in the brains of six out of six former NFL players.
"What's been surprising is that it's so extensive," said [Dr. Ann] McKee. "It's throughout the brain, not just on the superficial aspects of the brain, but it's deep inside."
"I knew what traumatic brain disease looked like in the very end stages, in the most severe cases," said McKee. "To see the kind of changes we're seeing in 45-year-olds is basically unheard of."
The damage affects the parts of the brain that control emotion, rage, hypersexuality, even breathing, and recent studies find that CTE is a progressive disease that eventually kills brain cells.
That is just scary. They've got 100 guys who have pledged to donate their brains, and given that all these guys are dying in their mid-40's, the doctors should have quite a study ahead of them in the next decade or so.
Given the NFL's history with this sort of the thing, you'll probably be unsurprised to learn two things: 1) the players seem a little bit pissed about this information; 2) the NFL is funding their own study.