A recent study suggests that pro football players are more likely to die of neurological diseases, and the Centers for Disease Control said concussions and repeated blows to the head are likely to blame.
Researchers found the players were three times more likely to die from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or Lou Gehrig's disease than the general population.
The study, published in the medical journal Neurology, found players in speed positions, like running backs and wide receivers, were more likely to develop the neurological diseases.
Jeffrey Hilburn, a neurologist with St. Vincent Health, said it's the speed of these collisions that hurt the players.
"Protecting their brains is helpful, but if you have a high rate of speed, it's still going to hurt your brain," Hilburn told RTV6's Stacia Matthews. "The study that was published was from NFL players dying between 1959 and 1988. Safety precautions weren't as good then."
But even with advancements, players still get hurt on the gridiron.
A hit last month sent Colts wide receiver Austin Collie to the bench with his third concussion in two years.
And pro football players aren't the only ones who suffer from traumatic brain injuries -- a new state concussion law is designed to protect high school students.
Hilburn said he wants to see doctors, coaches and others take action when players are younger.
"I think earlier is better," he said. "I think that will carry over to young age groups."
More than 2,000 former pro football players are suing the NFL, claiming the league downplayed the risks of concussions.
This week the NFL pledged $30 million to the National Institutes of Health for Brain Injury Research.
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