Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Legal Ethical Issues, Neuroscience, Psychophysical Disorders Health Psychology, Research Methods, Social Psychology.

Description: The recently released Will Smith film, Concussion, dramatizes a rising concern over the long-term effects of head injuries suffered by professional football players (among other athletes). This video story reports on a study in which the brains of former NFL players would passed away were autopsied and studied in detail for the effects of CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Even if you haven’t seen the will Smith movie this is video story is worth a look and worth reflecting upon

Source: Landmark Study Focuses on NFL Players Brains: Study Finds Brain Disease in 96% of Dead NFL Players Tested, Newsy.

Date: January 10, 2016

Football Brain Injury

Photo Credit: Getty/Images / Doug Pensinger

Links: Article Link –

Video Link –

The research described in this video story indicates that there are signs in virtually all postmortem studies of the brains of former NFL players of the effects of concussions experienced while they’re playing the game and reflected in the form of what is referred to as CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The NFL has clearly been struggling with how to deal with this emerging corpus of medical data. It is certainly true that the former football players who died at a relatively young age are very likely that a biased sample within which one might expect higher rate of brain injury. As well, it is very difficult to do good research on the effects of repeated injury on the brains of individuals currently involved in the game. Of course, it is also clear that the NFL has a deep financial interest in the game of football as it is currently played. There have been a number of rule changes initiated in an effort to reduce the number of “head shots” and other on field actions which clearly players brains at increased risk. It will be interesting to watch over the next few years whether research techniques are developed or other forms of data acquired such to this question could be more directly addressed with current players and with former players who are still alive. Ethically, whose decisions are these to make?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is CTE and how might regular routine participation in professional football contribute to its development?
  2. Ethically, is it possible to balance the long-term physical effects of participation in a particular professional activity against the large sums of money that can be earned by engaging in that activity currently within large sports organizations like the National Football League?
  3. What sorts of policy implications might there be this line of research, should it continue to show the kinds of data that have already been revealed, but only for professional football but also for all of its precursors from college football all the way back to child football leagues?

References (Read Further):

Asplund, C. A., & Best, T. M. (2015). Brain damage in American football. BMJ, 350, h1381.


Edlow, B. L., & Hinson, H. E. (2015). Blowing the whistle on sports concussions Will the risk of dementia change the game?. Neurology, 85(17), 1442-1443.


Filley, C. M., & Bernick, C. (2015). Children and football A cautionary tale. Neurology, 84(11), 1068-1069.


Johnson, L. S. M. (2015). Sport-Related Neurotrauma and Neuroprotection: Are Return-to-Play Protocols Justified by Paternalism?. Neuroethics, 8(1), 15-26.