As recently as February, the NFL denied any link between the sport and the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). During a congressional committee hearing on March 14, Jeff Miller, the league’s senior vice president for health and safety, became the first NFL official to publicly acknowledge that football players have a higher risk of developing the disease.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Miller, when asked if football and CTE were linked, said, “Well, certainly Dr. McKee’s research shows that a number of retired NFL players were diagnosed with CTE, so the answer to that question is certainly yes, but there’s also a number of questions that come with that.”

The research that he referred to is the result of Dr. Ann McKee’s efforts as the leader of the Brain Bank, a collaborative effort of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Boston University and the Concussion Legacy Foundation. The Brain Bank has specifically studied the brains of former players who displayed symptoms indicative of a brain disorder.

The Brain Bank has been instrumental in the bringing the disease to the limelight. Before the NFL acknowledged her findings, Dr. McKee and others were fighting the good fight, but faced long odds. We wrote about their efforts last November, when Dr. McKee told PBS Frontline, “People think that we’re blowing this out of proportion, that this is a very rare disease and that we’re sensationalizing it. My response is that where I sit, this is a very real disease. We have had no problem identifying it in hundreds of players.”

Moving forward

With the NFL finally acknowledging the link between the game and the devastating disease, there is hope that real progress can be made. Additionally, knowing the risks means that everyone from parents to professional athletes can make informed decisions about whether to play. At the end of the day, the results are in, and the real work of protecting players and treating victims can begin.

While the odds of developing CTE are lower for the general population, the odds of sustaining a traumatic brain injury are significantly higher. One in every 60 Americans lives with a TBI related disability, and 137 people die every day from TBI. Brain injuries and their resulting effects change lives, and not for the better.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and lost wages. The experienced Tennessee traumatic brain injury attorneys at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. Visit our offices in Nashville, Gallatin or Knoxville or contact us today for a free consultation.