Chronic brain injury CTE is only confirmed after death. How do we diagnose the living?

| | July 27, 2018
football brain
Image credit: Emily Ledergerber
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Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is found among people who’ve had head injuries. Though not everyone with head trauma develops CTE, the group that’s come to be most associated with it is football players, whose brains can be routinely jarred by hard hits. The disease has been linked to depression, dementia and even suicide among those who play the game.

[A new study] represents a step forward in developing a test for the disease in the living. Right now, accurately diagnosing CTE requires the close study of brain tissue during autopsy, to identify the telltale abnormal proteins.

The small study involved seven military personnel — five veterans and two active duty — who’d had brain injuries and experienced CTE-type symptoms, such as memory loss and mood swings.

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[Researcher Gary] Small’s team compared [brain scans of military personel] with those of a number of other people: Fifteen retired football players who had suffered brain injuries and exhibited CTE symptoms; two dozen people who had Alzheimer’s dementia and 28 healthy “control” subjects who were cognitively intact.

The results: The scans of the military personel showed patterns similar to the retired football players and different from the Alzheimer’s patients and control subjects.


A reliable test for CTE in living people is still at least a few years away, [Small] estimates. But there already are plans for more research.

Read full, original post: Scientists Hunt For A Test To Diagnose Chronic Brain Injury In Living People

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