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Study: Concussions linked to depression Players' risk rises with 3 or more incidents

By Ken Murray

Sun reporter

NFL players who endured at least three concussions are three times more likely to suffer from depression than a player who had none, according to the University of North Carolina's Center for the Study of Retired Athletes.

In a self-report survey of 2,552 retired NFL players over a period of four years, the center demonstrated a sharp increase in risk of depression with three concussions.

Twenty percent of the 595 players who remembered having at least three concussions were clinically diagnosed with depression later in life, compared with 10 percent who recalled one or two concussions. Almost 7 percent of those with no concussions were diagnosed with depression.

Three years ago, the center reported that retired NFL players who had suffered three concussions were five times more at risk for mild cognitive impairment.

To Dr. Julian Bailes, those studies suggest three concussions represent a threshold number.

"It appears that depression, just like MCI [mild cognitive impairment] is a sequelae, or aftereffect, of having multiple concussions while playing football," said Bailes, who heads the department of neurosurgery at West Virginia University's school of medicine and is the third author of the depression study. "So it appears to me there also may be a threshold number."

The study, published yesterday in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine and first reported by The New York Times, raised anew the debate over the long-term effects of concussions.

The NFL's concussion committee has refuted the cumulative effect of repeated concussions and rejected the findings of the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes.

But Bruce Laird, who played safety for the Baltimore Colts in a 12-year NFL career, said he puts credence into the warnings in the Carolina study.

"I realize I'm no scientist, and I realize the study is in its infancy, but when you look at the likes of Mike Webster and Andre Waters and numerous other players ... then any intelligent person would have to give a sense of credence to those findings."

Webster suffered from mental impairment that resulted from brain trauma and contributed to his death. Earlier this year, a neuropathologist said that multiple concussions likely contributed to the suicide of Waters.

To address these issues, the NFL's concussion committee is embarking on a $2 million study of retired players.

"That's good," Bailes said. "I look forward to their findings. We will support and help them in any way we can. I hope the NFL can do a bigger, better study. They certainly can do a more well-funded study."

If Goodell is sincere in his efforts he should make this matter extremelly serious as this is an issue that effects players well beyond their playing days. Goodell recently banned serving alcohol from any NFL related event, plane or bus ride, etc..But the NFL doesn't agree that concussions will lead to brain damage which can cause severe depression, which is just stupid. This is a very hypocritical stance by the NFL and it makes it seem as if they don't have the players best interest at heart.

Something has to be done to either give the players more protection or limit their playing time once they have suffered a certian number of concussions because as the players get bigger, stronger, and faster the game will become more violent and concussions will be an unfortunate by-product.

It's good to see that the NFL is commissioning another study, hopefully they can get someone other than Dr. Suess & Dr. Dre to conduct the study.

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The problem for a long time was that the NFL let some quack doctor run the concussion program. Guy was a rheumatologist I believe, no apparent training in neurology, and got his medical degree from some banana republic medical school. That guy didn't know his ass from his elbow.

So it sounds like the NFL didn't want the study to find anything negative so they put a complete idiot in charge of it, very responible. <_<

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