Concussions and Brain Disease
Written by Faith Anderson on January 23, 2013
Repeated Head Injuries May Lead to CTE
According to Dr. Gary Small of the University of California Los Angeles, positron emission tomography (PET) scanning using a tracer for tau protein known as FDDNP found considerably higher binding values in the concussed brains of living retired players than in controls in several regions of the brain. Furthermore, tau binding values were highest in athletes who had experienced the most head injuries during their NFL careers, which “suggests a link between the players’ history of head injury and FDDNP binding,” the study authors wrote in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. “If this research continues in the direction we expect, it would have a big impact on the early detection of this condition, helping us to develop interventions that could delay the onset of symptoms,” said Small.
Cognitive Impairment in Former NFL Players
In their study, Small and colleagues performed neuropsychiatric evaluations of five former NFL players who exhibited mood or cognitive symptoms clinically, and then used PET scanning with FDDNP to examine their brains. The players, all of whom were around 60 years of age, held various positions throughout their careers, from center to quarterback and defensive linemen, and played for between ten and sixteen years. The affected players had significantly higher scores on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression than controls, and also showed a trend toward lower scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination, which evaluates cognitive impairment.
Devastating Consequences of CTE
CTE, which was previously only detectable postmortem through an autopsy, has been implicated in the suicide death of Junior Seau and has been diagnosed in as many as 30 other former NFL players. CTE is a degenerative brain disease typically brought on by repeated trauma to the head, has features of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease, and results in symptoms like forgetfulness, depression, impulsive behavior, rage, dementia and sometimes even suicidal ideation. Despite the increasingly widespread recognition of the long-lasting consequences of repeated traumatic brain injury (TBI), research into the resulting condition has been hindered by the fact that no diagnostic test has been able to identify the condition prior to death.
Contact a Reputable Attorney Today
Although the researchers involved in the research noted that their findings should be interpreted with caution, given that only five players were included in the study, if this diagnostic approach proves accurate in larger numbers of subjects, it may open the way to possible treatments for brain damage, Alzheimer’s disease and CTE. If you have experienced a concussion, head injury or traumatic brain injury because of another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. With the expertise of a reputable lawyer on your side, you may be able to file a claim against the allegedly negligent person who caused your injuries, in order to seek fair and timely reimbursement for your medical bills and other accident-related losses.