Study: Contact sports linked to progressive disease CTE - WNEM TV 5

Study: Contact sports linked to progressive disease CTE

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

It's the time of year when children head off to sports camps to start preparing for the upcoming fall season.

A new study surrounding a progressive brain disease known as CTE is providing new cause for concern for many parents.

Most associate CTE with professional football players, stemming from repeated concussive blows to the head. However, the disease can affect anyone at any age.

Football is and continues to be America's most popular sport, boasting the highest number of participants within high schools and colleges across the nation.

It's also the sport that is probably facing the most scrutiny with parents across the country debating whether or not to let their children play.

"I'm going to think very cautiously about the next two boys I have playing football," Saginaw Public School Board of Education President Rudy Patterson said.

Patterson has two sons who have played football and two more who are in elementary school. He is concerned about the effect contact sports can have later in life.

"I wouldn't take them out to Pop Warner football or something like that. In the third, fourth or fifth grade, I believe that they're too young," Patterson said.

Patterson is also part of the board that recently voted to allow kids in the fifth and sixth grade to play tackle football. Two of the seven members voted against it, including Patterson.

"It's huge. There's a high risk and we traditionally start tackle football in seventh grade, seventh to eighth grade," Patterson said.

A recent study released by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows out of 111 NFL brains examined, 110 of them were found with chronic traumatic encepephalopathy or CTE. It is a degenerative disease linked with repeated blows to the head.

"The intention with the pads and the helmets is to collide and they're going to get that rapid pounding of the brain. In the boxing field we call it punch drunk," Patterson said.

Despite the thrill of the game and the increasing number of scholarships being offered to younger players, it's the number of health risks associated with football that has parents concerned.

"The biggest portion is the CTE. There have always been injuries - knee, back and whatever. But the brain, if you don't have a brain you don't have anything," Patterson said.

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