Football Players
Getty Images

New Data Shows 96% of NFL Players Test Positive for Brain Disease

Sep 18, 2015

New data on the effects of football collisions on the human brain found that 96% of former NFL players whose brains were studied tested positive for a degenerative brain disease.

Eighty-seven out of 91 players suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, according to figures released by the Department of Veteran Affairs and Boston University, Frontline reports. Researchers believe the disease is caused by repeated hits to the head, and it has been found to lead to memory loss and dementia. Forty percent of the players who were found to have the disease were offensive or defensive linemen.

The new figures are in line with an earlier study by Boston University that found that 97% of brains of former NFL players who were studied tested positive for CTE. The more recent figures show 79% of football players overall suffered from CTE, when including people who had played high school, college and semi-professional football.

The increase in findings of CTE is widely believed to be a result of increased awareness about the dangers of repeated head trauma to the human brain. Because reaserchers only analyze the brains of players who have chosen to donate them for research, the results may be skewed, according to Frontline.

In a statement to Frontline, the NFL said it is dedicated to making football safer by changing rules, advancing sideline technology and expanding medical resources.

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.