A small, yet promising, brain trauma study may someday lead to a time when doctors can forecast which patients who incurred concussions or repeated blows to the head will be at risk for future neurological problems.
The new study, released this week, has the potential to advance scientists’ knowledge of brain injuries and expand the scope of work currently being done to include preventative measures for treating psychiatric issues and onset dementia before they surface. Currently, confirmation of brain damage stemming from concussions, blows and the like, a condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, can only be diagnosed post-mortem.
“We suspect that when the brain moves during a hard hit, it causes a shearing injury of the white matter fibers that travel across the brain,” says Dr. Jennifer Coughlin, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and lead author of the study.
“The study showed that there is a measurable degree of this biomarker of brain injury and repair even in young NFL players,” Dr. Martin Pomper, a Johns Hopkins researcher said to Reuters, “suggesting that the insult to their brains could have occurred long before they were scanned for the study — perhaps dating to collegiate or pre-collegiate play.”
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