Patrick Grange was a lifelong soccer player who starred in high school and played collegiately at Illinois-Chicago and the University of New Mexico.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease linked to repeated blows to the head, has been found posthumously in the brain of a 29-year-old former soccer player, the strongest indication yet that the condition is not limited to athletes who played violent collision sports like football and boxing.

The researchers at Boston University and VA Boston Healthcare who have diagnosed scores of cases of C.T.E. said Patrick Grange of Albuquerque represents the first named case of C.T.E. in a soccer player. On a four-point scale of severity, his was considered Stage 2.

Soccer is a physical game but rarely a violent one. Collisions occur, either between players or a player and the ground, but the most repeated blows to the head might come from the act of heading an airborne ball — to redirect it purposely — in games and in practice.