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Heather Anderson, the first female athlete diagnosed with CTE

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a brain injury disease caused by repeated head injuries. It is incurable, worsens over time, and eventually leads to dementia. CTE is associated with contact sports such as football, boxing, and martial arts.

Heather Anderson

Heather Anderson was a professional Australian rules footballer who died unexpectedly last year at the age of 28. Anderson's family donated her brain to the Australia Sports Brain Bank, where scientists found symptoms of CTE. Anderson was the first female athlete to be diagnosed with CTE.

Risk of CTE in female athletes

Until relatively recently, women were excluded from many contact sports. However, that is no longer the case. Last year, 1 million Australian women played a contact sport of some kind. As women's participation in these sports continues to grow, so will the risk of more athletes developing CTE.

Lack of research into CTE in female athletes

Many high-profile male athletes have been diagnosed with CTE. A 2017 study found it affected 87% of late male American football players whose brains were donated for research. However, doctors say Anderson's diagnosis highlights the lack of research into CTE in female athletes. They hope her case will focus attention on what is set to become a growing problem.

Have you read?

The diagnosis of CTE in Heather Anderson is a wake-up call for the sporting world. It is clear that female athletes are at risk of developing this devastating disease. More research is needed to understand the risk factors for CTE in female athletes and to develop effective prevention strategies.

Topics:
Equity, Diversity and InclusionIndustries in Depth
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June 12, 2024

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