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3 ways the NFL can reduce the risk of CTE in football players

According to research, there are high rates of traumatic brain injuries, concussions, and a severe brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in past players. The problem with these injuries is that they can have highly terrible debilitating effects.

As a result, the NFL changed a couple of rules during the 2017–2018 football season to improve safety in the field of play. But have the rules been effective?

What are the implications for college students, teenagers, and children who play football? And how can the risk of CTE be reduced in football players?

We’ll look at these in this article.

Overview of CTE

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a brain disorder — a brain degeneration caused by repeated traumas to the head. The diagnosis is usually made at autopsy by analyzing sections of the brain.

CTE is a rare disorder, one that is not fully understood.

CTE is associated with contact sports, like American football or boxing. The majority of the studies available are based on ex-footballers.

This disorder was previously known as dementia pugilistica and “punch drunk” syndrome. However, these terms are outdated because it is now understood that this condition may affect other categories of people than just ex-boxers. The diagnosis and prevalence of CTE are still subject to debate.

Currently, the condition is managed only with supportive treatment, and current research aims to find a reliable technique for diagnosing the disease.

Symptoms of CTE

The symptoms of CTE vary between individuals. However, it tends to be similar to symptoms of other degenerative brain conditions, especially Alzheimer’s disease.

CTE starts several years after repeated concussions or severe blows to the head. The symptoms affect the functioning of the brain, ultimately resulting in dementia.

Symptoms of CTE include:

· Short-term memory loss: for instance, repeating the same question or finding it difficult to remember phone numbers or names.

· Mood changes: examples include depression, mood swings, and feelings of agitation, frustration, and anxiety.

· Increasing disorientation and confusion: for instance, wandering or not knowing the time of the day and getting lost.

· Difficulty in thinking — not being able to make decisions.

One may experience other symptoms as the condition progresses. These include:

· Significant problems with one’s memory

· Slurred speech

· Parkinsonism — symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease, such as muscle stiffness, slow movement, and tremor.

· Difficulty swallowing or eating — quite rare, though.

The new NFL rules

In a bid to make play safer, the NFL has altered a couple of rules. Kickoffs have been moved from the 30-yeard line to the 35-yard line. Touchbacks are now on the 25-yard line as opposed to the 20-yard line. The NFL believes that this rule shortens the distance between the kicking team and the receiving team.

The NFL plans to disqualify players who exhibit dangerous conduct and poor sportsmanship to reduce injuries.

The crown-of-the-helmet rule penalizes offensive ball carriers or defensive players who initiate contact with the top of their helmets. Such play usually happens when one player hits another player with his head. Of course, this is very dangerous to both players. Therefore, this type of hit now has a 15-yard penalty. Crown-of-the-helmet rule reduces the probability of defensive player concussions from 32% to 29%. The likelihood of head and neck injuries is reduced by 34% as well. The downside is that the players will tackle more of the lower body, which increases the risk of lower-body injuries.

How can the NFL reduce the risk of CTE?

Encourage the intake of Omega-3 fish oils

EPA and DHA (both are types of omega-3 fatty acids) play a vital role in normal brain function and development throughout every stage of life.

EPA and DHA appear to have significant roles in developing infants’ brains. Some studies have established a correlation between fish intake or fish oil consumption by pregnant women with high brain function in early childhood (12).

These fatty acids also help in the maintenance of normal brain function. They are abundant in the membranes of the brain’s cells, preserving the health of the cell membrane and enhancing communication between brain cells (3).

Studies had shown that when animals were fed diets deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, the amount of DHA in their brains fell, and they experienced deficits in memory and learning (45).

In the elderly, DHA deficiency is associated with smaller brain size, a sign of brain aging (6).

You must take adequate omega-3 fatty acids to avoid these poor brain function and development.

2. Brain MRIs

A 2010 study (7) published in the journal Brain Injury showed that patients with an automobile crash history and an attendant neck pain have a higher CTE frequency than non-traumatic subjects when evaluated with an MRI.

According to the study, CTE is more prevalent in whiplash-injury neck pain than in neck patients with no recent trauma history. Therefore, requiring the NFL to take periodic brain scans would be critical to determine the progression of early-onset CTE. Gathering this data on every player would be vital for the future of the health of all players.

3. Upper cervical chiropractic care

It is important to note that Foundational Correction using upper cervical chiropractic care does not treat neurodegenerative ailments like CTE. Why? Because the pathology of the disease(s) is a function of numerous variables.

Could this be of assistance to ex-NFL players with CTE like Jim McMahon? Read his story here. What’s more? Can Foundational Correction help people who do not play football but experience similar conditions?

Studies have shown that it is possible. For example, recent evidence confirms that foundational shifts in the upper neck region can alter the spinal fluid flow.


There are several hidden dangers associated with football and other contact sports. However, some tips listed above may help minimize the risks.

They include omega-3 fish oils supplements, periodic MRI scans of the brain, and Upper Cervical Chiropractic. The latter is a non-traditional chiropractic technique featured at Foundation Chiropractic. Click here to learn more about what makes Foundation Chiropractic different than traditional chiropractic offices.

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