These photos show the difference between a normal brain, top, and former University of Texas footballer Greg Ploetz’s brain.
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Researchers are tackling fresh questions about a degenerative brain disease now that it has been detected in the brains of nearly 200 football players after death.The largest report to date on chronic traumatic encephalopathy included 202 brains from football players at the youth, college and professional level, all donated post-mortem to a Boston brain bank. CTE was detected in all but one of the 111 NFL players studied, 90 percent of the college players and 20 percent of the high-school players. It was absent in two younger players' brains.Most brains studied for CTE have been donated by family members because of concerns about mental symptoms that might be related to the disease – they don't come from a random population of people. Some experts think it isn't common since many athletes get repeated head blows and never develop symptoms.CTE has been linked with repeated concussions and some scientists believe it may occur after repeated head blows that don't cause obvious symptoms.Studies are underway to identify if specific genes make certain athletes more vulnerable to brain damage from head blows, and researchers hope to pin down how many head blows it takes to develop CTE.
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