In his recent white paper (Conceptualizing Brain Injury as a Chronic Disease), Brent Masel, M.D., medical director of BIAA, makes the case that brain injury is a disease, not an event. In support of that proposition, Dr. Masel presented stunning statistics showing, among many other things, that persons with traumatic brain injury have higher morbidity and mortality rates than their non-injured cohorts. 

A recently published paper entitled Neurodegenerative causes of death among retired National Football League players supports that proposition. The paper, authored by Lehman, EJ, Hein MJ and Barron SL, published online in Neurology (September 5, 2012), analyzed neurodegenerative causes of death especially Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS among a cohort of professional football players. 

The research demonstrated that neurodegenerative mortality of this cohort is three times higher than that of the general US population, that for Alzheimer’s disease and ALS it was four times higher.  “These results were consistent with recent studies that suggest an increase risk of neurodegenerative disease among football players.”  Neurology 2012; 79:1-1