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Study makes headway on detecting brain disease

Posted on in Catastrophic Injuries

A new study by a leading neurological care center reveals new insights for brain disease. This study may give some hope to California residents who have experienced a brain injury or suffer from brain disease related to impacts to the head.

The study revealed that five former NFL players have signs of a brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is related to concussions. This study, though small, is the first that might help doctors detect the illness while the patient is still alive.

Previous CTE studies had been done only in autopsies, in which brain cells would be stained and contained in cross sections of the brain to be viewed under a microscope. Signs of CTE would include a buildup of protein clusters.

In the new study, positron emission tomography scans can show the protein's signature low emission of radioactivity.

One of the test subjects is a former football player who is now 65 years old. During his athletic career, he suffered three concussions. Though he is not feeling effects of CTE, he said he hopes his results can be used to further the research and give insight to how he feels about the NFL's failure to look after its players following their retirement.

According to the co-author of the report, who is also a neurosurgeon and co-director of the institute that conducted the research, the study was completed with the help of a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral health. His research helped the team get their results.

The man said he is hopeful they can do more tests and develop ways to help diagnose the disease at earlier stages, followed by preventative measures and treatments.

NFL star Junior Seau, who ended up committing suicide last year, was diagnosed with CTE during an autopsy. Suicide can be a consequence from the disease's side effects of depression and dementia, according to the co-author of the report.

Source: USA Today, "Study gives hope for brain disease treatment," Gary Mihoces, Jan. 23, 2013

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