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A recent telephone study done by the University of Michigan at the request of the NFL has found that retired NFL players may be more prone to cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than non-football players of the same age.

The survey asked over 1,000 former NFL players if they’d ever been diagnosed with a memory-loss related condition or disease. Two percent of former players between the ages of 30 and 49 said “yes.” According to the MSN article, “Ex-NFL players report higher rates of dementia,” that’s 19 times higher than normal. The results were 5 times higher for retirees over 50.

David Weir, the lead author, emphasized (perhaps downplayed) that the findings did not show a direct causal link between football and memory loss, only that the risk is worth studying.

This writer is a huge football fan. But the fact is, a concussion is a brain injury, and to the extent football players are getting concussions (repeatedly, in many cases), they are getting brain injuries. The NFL needs to do something to take care of these guys, who literally sacrifice their bodies for this game, nothwithstanding they make a good living. Given what they put their bodies through, the money they make is justified. When guys weighing between 200 and 350 pounds, who move very fast, are pounding each other at high speeds, concussions (and other debilitating orthopedic injuries) are simply going to happen. The NFL needs to do more for them as they develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other neurologic injuries.

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