Study from Feb 2018 journal Brain showing hits not concussion cause CTE

Submitted by Sextus Empiricus on February 2nd, 2018 at 7:04 AM

Concussion, microvascular injury, and early tauopathy in young athletes after impact head injury and an impact concussion mouse model 

Brain, Volume 141, Issue 2, 1 February 2018, Pages 422–458,
18 January 2018
Article history

My embed kungfu is no good... perhaps yours is much better.

If you are interested hit this link...

There is a 4 min video embedded in this study (which was published with a public link... i.e. you have full access.) which I can't scrape for this post (or at least 20 mins of looking couldn't get it done.)

The video is a pretty good summary. I will diarize later if I have time but there is nothing here that a layperson can't wrap their heads around.

This is the sort of publishing Journals should do for all public health studies IMO.

TL;DR - Concussions don't cause CTE. The raw contact does.  Concussion protocols don't protect players from CTE risk.

Time to think about flag football Saturdays perhaps.  I for one would like to see Ultimate made a varsity sport.  Regardless this is good science and is well written.

This study should have some media impact if it hasn't already.  

Go Blue!



February 2nd, 2018 at 8:24 AM ^

At Michigan, I always thought we tried to do things the right way. Is there not an ethical issue to consider? I, like everyone else on this board, love the game of football.At the same time, I do not want to see Michigan students playing a sport if there is a high potential for a compromised life as they age. It is easy to say “give them the choice” but the choice you make as an 18-year-old might not always be the wisest choice.

Ecky Pting

February 2nd, 2018 at 11:38 AM ^

Meh. I'm for driving fast and taking chances, not wearing seatbelts, and not having car insurance, and as a matter of fact, yes, I DO own the road, so you better get the F out of my way.

Oh wait, it's against the law to not have car insurance? Nevermind then, I've got a good policy that protects me and the others I might endanger when I get behind the wheel, and I even have one of those thingies that tracks my acceleration, speed and stopping force so I can get an even lower premium. Nuff said.

Moving on then ... I'm for not having healthcare insurance, because I'm as healthy as a horse, and hung like one too, and nothing's ever going to happen to me, amirite? Besides, if the law says I don't have to buy healthcare insurance, then I'm not gonna. Health insurance is for suckers who believe all the Surgeon General crap printed on a pack of cigarettes. I'm up to two packs a day, yo!


February 2nd, 2018 at 1:14 PM ^

I'm sorry but for those who can't fit into their budgets spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on health insurance each month, but don't qualify for subsidies, to be fined at the end of the year is pretty ridiculous.


My family of 6 goes to the doctor maybe a dozen times a year and gets a few perscriptions each year. Paying for health insurance is WAY more expensive for us than paying out of pocket. Obviously there is a HUGE risk if you don't have health insurance and something catasrophic happens but shouldn't I be able to make the decision about taking that chance? 

no politics, just truth

Ecky Pting

February 21st, 2018 at 6:31 PM ^

I've experienced catastrophic illness to the point at which my spouse was approaching the lifetime maximum of my employer sponsored policy, which was about $1.5M at the time. I was contemplating the possibility that I might need to seek other employment just to obtain new coverage. Yea - just imagine interviewing for a new job in that situation! Alas, my spouse passed away before that happened, so in the end, I still have the same job AND the house our family lived in.

If you don't like high premiums, you can get catastrophic coverage policies that have very low premiums with high deductibles. As long as you can afford - or somehow finance - the maximum out-of-pocket for whatever policy you have, you're good.

But, unless you can afford the expense of any possible scenerio that might arise, it's socially irresponsible and reckless not to maintain a health insurance policy.


February 2nd, 2018 at 11:03 AM ^

pretty much everywhere all the time. And democracy is premised on finding ways to reach decisions about how we govern ourselves that maximize the benefit to the greatest number of people. 

This might or might no end up being legislated--levels unknown. But the fact that it's the hits themselves that (maybe unsurprisingly, in retrospect) case long-term damage will increase the pressure for reform. 

Whole Milk

February 2nd, 2018 at 9:26 AM ^

There are certainly merits to both sides of this argument. Is it our moral obligation to step in when people do not know what is best for them? Possibly, but that would go against the ethical dilemma of imposing our will on others, as stated above. Then there is the consideration that you bring up of football being the ticket for many to an improved life, but how improved is that life if there is a severe risk of permanent health damage?

To me, the answer seems like we should not eliminate football altogether, but proceed with trying to make it as safe as possible. Both the NFL and the NCAA have made strides towards making the game safer with rule changes, but I don't think it is enough. In my opinion, the interest towards a safer game is more so to keep the public imagine positive for the leagues, instead of actually caring about the safety of the players. We need more. The NCAA has over a hundred of the greatest research facilities in the country at it's disposal to figure out the perfect equipment designs, specific causes of injuries and concussions, etc. It is time for there to be a bigger initiative towards the health of the players playing. That seems to be the only way we can keep the game we all love, while protecting those that are taking all the risks.

The Maizer

February 2nd, 2018 at 10:03 AM ^

Research is expensive. Some research approaches will not yield viable solutions, so it would be reasonable for a lot of people/groups to be involved. Someone has to pony up big time to make a significant change and I don't know who that would be unless it's the NFL. Will they put substantial financial backing to something that could potentially damage the sport's perception depending on the findings?


February 2nd, 2018 at 11:36 AM ^

While I have often applauded the path sports can provide to underprivledged people to get an education they normally wouldn't, there is nothing which forces sports to be linked to that opportunity. 

We could cut all sports today and create programs to get those same kids the same education. Won't happen, but those two things don't have to be tied together. 


February 2nd, 2018 at 6:42 PM ^

Because 5 year olds playing pop warner really understand the situation and are really making the choice for themselves...


and to pre-emptively counter someone's parents response... 'Just like we allow abusive parents to beat/molest the shit out of their kids with no intervention...'


February 2nd, 2018 at 7:21 AM ^

to be honest. The other lead doctor from Concussion (forgot his name, he's
Will Smith's partner) has two boys that he allows to play football, because he feels the changes that have been made have made it safe enough. I guess it still should be left up to the parents of kids. 


February 2nd, 2018 at 7:39 AM ^

All sorts of smart people with tons of information and knowledge do all sorts of stupid shit. I'm not sure this guy's decision has anything to do with objective fact. A single case does not a public policy, or even sound advice, make...

FYI, Jim Fixx, the guy widely credited with popularizing jogging in America, an avid runner and healthy-eating enthusiast, died of a heart attack at 52 years old. Hmmmmm....


February 2nd, 2018 at 7:22 AM ^

This has, more or less, been known for years.  No researcher, doctor, or lawyer involved with CTE has ever said that concussions are what lead to it.  They've always said that it's hits - each one, big and small, that jars the head in some way.  But if this study definitizes that, good for it.


February 2nd, 2018 at 9:02 AM ^

This is not followed everywhere. My son (10 yr) is in a rec league. They call a foul if anyone touches the ball with their head (in their age group, can't comment on other ager groups). whereas, his schoolmates play in a more organized and semi-traveling league. They are very adept in heading the ball and look like using it in a game as well as during practice. 

carolina blue

February 2nd, 2018 at 7:23 AM ^

Didn’t we? The definition of CTE is chronic trauma encephalopathy. It does not require concussions to occur in order to present. Maybe this study will help emphasize that fact, but it’s not like we didn’t already know.


February 2nd, 2018 at 8:14 AM ^

That's not exactly the case. Spelling out CTE is not the definition of the disease. Diabetes is not the definition of glucose intolerance. This study shows the setting and degree of impact to cause pathologic changes of CTE is less than that of a concussion. Yes we could gleam that from retrospective studies, but this was a mouse model giving prospective data. much more powerful


February 2nd, 2018 at 9:46 AM ^

Yes, but like I said only in retrospective studies. which is not a strong test of a hypothesis. We do not make conclusions from this type of data. The next step is to test a hypothesis with controlled trials, and were not going to hit humans over the head repeatedly for experimentation, hence mice.


February 2nd, 2018 at 8:01 AM ^

I believe they tried to make Ultimate a varsity sport. The NCAA didn't like that it was mostly self-officated, and the Ultimate community thought that it would affect the "spirit of the game" to have it be officiated.

Most higher level tournaments (regionals, nationals) are officiated now anyways and people haven't complained, so I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen in the next few years.


February 2nd, 2018 at 8:22 AM ^

Football is "under attack" because more people play it, but I think it's a mistake for people to keep their kids from playing football and other, traditional "contact sports." Skiing, water skiing, jet skiing, etc. are just a few examples of sports that can cause concussions and head trauma. I don't see many people saying "I'll never let my kids ski because they might fall and hit their head."

The only way to prevent CTE is to not let them play team sports, essentially. They can run, swim, maybe play tennis, but anything involving projectiles or a cluster of people is going to run the risk of head trauma.


February 2nd, 2018 at 8:44 AM ^

Sure, football suffers more hits. But there's a trade-off. Football is a more enjoyable sport, you can make more money, more people care, it teaches different lessons than other sports, etc. I can steer my kid toward cross country, sure, but nobody gives a rat's ass about cross country.


February 2nd, 2018 at 9:08 AM ^

"Enjoyable Sport"? Perspective I suppose. Every sports, every activity teaches some lessons about the sport, life and people. One doesn't have to play football to learn those.


And soccer and cricket are much more popular and many more people care about those than football.