October 9, 2009 — A new National Football League (NFL) study has identified a higher rate of dementia among retired players than in the general population. The preliminary study demonstrates more cognitive impairment among not just elderly retirees but also those younger than 50 years.
The study, commissioned by the NFL Player Care Foundation, has not been peer reviewed, and investigators are quick to point to its limitations. In the survey of more than 1000 retired players, researchers collected information by telephone interview and explored a range of issues on the health and well-being of professional athletes.
Linebacker Lofa Tatupu is donating his brain for research.
"The league wanted to learn more about retired football players," said lead investigator David Weir, PhD, from the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor during an interview. "This will help the organization respond to the needs of retired players," he added.
Last week, the NFL players association announced it is launching a concussion and traumatic brain injury committee. The group will explore the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of concussions and traumatic brain injury in active players and will evaluate the long-term cumulative effects of injuries.