New York Times Reports NFL Doctor Downplayed CTE

The New York Times reported this morning that a doctor on the N.F.L.’s head, neck and spine committee sought to downplay chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., in “a workplace safety fact sheet based on a study of degenerative brain disease in retired NFL players.”

The paper noted that “against this backdrop of public awareness, the N.F.L. has drastically shifted its position on head injuries in recent years, introducing rule changes and promoting education. But the league has expressed skepticism about the possibility of a link between on-field head injuries and C.T.E., a sentiment captured in the league doctor’s request to the federal safety agency (preparing the sheet).”

The doctor claimed C.T.E. was “not fully understood” and because it was not listed on the death certificates of the retired players in the study and thus lacked “epidemiological validity,” according to the paper. “He suggested that traumatic brain injury, or T.B.I., be used instead because it ‘may accomplish what you want to say in more established medical terms.’”

Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which wrote the fact sheet, reportedly “rejected the league doctor’s proposed change. Independent medical experts said such a request was inappropriate and not in line with prevailing research.”

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