NFL Players Are at Increased Risk for Alzheimer’s

A recent report from the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association disclosed that NFL players are at least twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than the general population.

NFL Players Are at Increased Risk for Alzheimer's

Learn why and what this means for the affected players.

Higher Rate of Brain Conditions

As part of an ongoing concussion lawsuit in the NFL, the NFL Players’ Association commissioned the Analysis Research and Planning Corporation, an actuarial firm, to conduct a report that would analyze the effects of playing in the NFL on brain health. The firm found that:

  • Almost 14% of all former NFL players will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
  • Another 14% of players will develop moderate dementia
  • The risk of developing early-onset Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s, or dementia is twice as high as the general public
  • Former players will be diagnosed at “notably younger ages”

Lead player lawyers Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss released a statement saying:

“This report paints a startling picture of how prevalent neurocognitive diseases are among retired NFL players.”

Settlement for Former Players

The league and the players’ association were able to reach a settlement of $675 million for treatment of former players, $75 million for neurological testing, $5 million for public notice, and an additional $10 million for research. The settlement will not cover current players, but the League has also agreed to pay more over time if needed.

Critics of the settlement note that awards for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia are cut by 75% if the player has suffered a stroke. They also point out that the settlement plan does not include any awards to anyone diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative brain disease diagnosed only after death, after July 7, 2014.

Paul Anderson, a lawyer involved in the lawsuit, criticized the settlement saying, “The biggest thing that jumps out is the number of deceased players that won’t be compensated — especially when reviewed under the lens of what Dr. McKee says that it’s quite possible that every NFL player has CTE.” 

What do you think about NFL players being twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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