Research has revealed that repeated head impacts, such as from heading a ball or tackling in rugby and American football are directly linked to causing chronic traumatic encephalopathy. 

 Study lead author, Dr Chris Nowinski, CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation said:

“This innovative analysis gives us the highest scientific confidence that repeated head impacts cause CTE. Sports governing bodies should acknowledge that head impacts cause CTE and they should not mislead the public on CTE causation while athletes die, and families are destroyed, by this terrible disease.”

In this latest study, researchers applied the Bradford Hill criteria, which encompasses nine benchmarks to demonstrate the level of confidence in the causal relationship we can place between the adverse health outcome and the environmental exposure.  

Conducted by a team of leading international experts from Oxford Brookes University and 12 academic institutions and with analysis by Concussion Legacy Foundation UK, the study also highlighted independent studies by the US Department of Defence, the Boston University-US Department of Veterans Affairs and the Mayo Clinic which found that athletes playing contact sports are at least 68 times more likely to develop CTE than the general population. 

Dr Adam White, senior lecturer in sport and coaching sciences at Oxford Brookes University and executive director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation UK, said:

“This analysis shows it is time to include repetitive head impacts and CTE among other child safety efforts like smoking, sunburns and alcohol.

“Repetitive head impacts and CTE deserve recognition in the global public health discussion of preventable disorders caused by childhood exposure in contact sports like football, rugby, ice hockey and others.”

Read the full research paper: Applying the Bradford Hill Criteria for Causation to Repetitive Head Impacts and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy>>

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