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Study Reinforces Link Between Head Trauma, Brain Damage

BOSTON — An extensive Boston University study of head trauma found strong evidence that repeated blows to the head can lead to long-term brain damage.

The study, conducted by the BU Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, looked at the brains of 85 football players, boxers and military veterans. Sixty-eight of the subjects — or 80 percent — showed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a degenerative brain disorder linked to memory loss, depression and dementia.

Dr. Robert Cantu co-authored the study, one of the most far-reaching on the matter ever conducted.

“Sixty-eight cases more than doubles all the other cases in the world’s literature to date,” Cantu said. “So the sheer volume of it should put to rest any doubt about the entity.”

The report, published Monday in the journal Brain, comes amid mounting concern over the long-term risk of contact sports such as football and hockey — especially for children.

Thousands of former NFL players and their families have sued the league, saying it covered up evidence linking football injuries to long-term brain damage.

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