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CTE brain disease found in former Australian Rules player for first time


Researchers have identified a brain disease linked to repeated blows to the head in an Australian Rules footballer for the first time.

Former Geelong Cats player Graham Farmer, who died aged 84 in August, was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) by doctors at the Australian Sports Brain Bank, Acta Neuropathologica Communications said on Wednesday.

CTE is a progressive degenerative disease which can only be definitively diagnosed post-mortem in individuals with a history of multiple concussions and other forms of head injury.

The disease has previously been found in the brains of some deceased NFL players and in the brain of former West Brom footballer Jeff Astle.

Farmer played over 350 games of Australian Rules football over a 20-year career from 1952 until 1971. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1999.

Farmer's CTE diagnosis follows confirmation that two Australian former professional rugby league players also suffered from the disease, the nation's first recorded diagnoses in the sport.

The AFL has implemented a number of measures in recent years aimed at protecting players from head injuries, including cracking down on head-high tackles and enforcing stricter penalties.

On Monday, the Football Association changed its guidelines for coaches of primary school children, advising them not to include heading in their training.

It followed a study which found professional footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the population.

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