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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.

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Imagine being involved in what seems like a minor car accident. Just as the other vehicle hits, your head hits the side window or another part of the car. Experiencing no other injuries or immediate side effects, you dismiss the ensuing headache as a harmless bump. But did you suffer a brain injury? How would you know for certain?

The latest research on traumatic brain injuries suggests they're much more common than previously thought. As experts learn more about the long-term effects of head trauma, they're also discovering a broader range of TBI among all age groups. Mayo Clinic researchers have developed a new, more comprehensive system for classifying brain injuries and concluded that the incidence of TBI is probably greater than estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Mayo Traumatic Brain Injury Classification System classifies brain injuries using a much more comprehensive scale. Using categories including "definite," "probable" and "possible," the new classification method allows researchers to categorize symptoms from dizziness and nausea to a loss of consciousness. Using the data from this system, one of the study's authors, the director of brain rehabilitation research at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, said it's likely that many traumatic brain injuries have gone undiagnosed.

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