The study of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE which affects athletes and others who have multiple concussions suffers from a lack of brains for study. The confirming diagnosis of CTE currently can only be made through studies done at autopsy which limits the study to the deceased. The problems associated with CTE effect those living with the brain changes related to the disease can become the cause of an early death via suicide. A recent study at UCLA involving 150 athletes including contact and non-contact sport participants used a brain imaging tool to diagnose CTE in living athletes. Dr. Robert Stern, of Boston University, called this study is an important step in the process of building a reliable set of tools to diagnose CTE and offer people with the condition treatment and rehabilitation to address the disruptive cognitive, behavioral and personality changes.
This week the family of Jovan Belcher a former Kansas City Chiefs player exhumed his body to allow his brain to be studied. Daniel Perl, MD, Director of the Brain Bank and a Professor of Pathology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, questions the viability of Belcher’s brain considering that he has been buried for some time, but admitted that the study of CTE is hampered by a shortage of brains. Former players like Dave Dursen left explicit instructions regarding his brain and his suicide method left his brain intact for study. The family of Junior Seau also recognized the need for research into CTE and allowed his brain to enter into the study.
Recently NIH funded 8 projects related to the study of CTE and concussions with the NFL contributing $30 million to the studies. We need to support the development of tools to recognize the effects of multiple concussions and the onset of CTE among the living. Its not only athletes in contact sports that get CTE. We are starting to see evidence among veterans with multiple exposure to blasts in the battlefield. And, there’s the issue of domestic and child abuse where the person may never have come to the attention of medical professionals in terms of potential brain injuries. There’s great depth to the need to identify CTE among the living.
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Tag lines: CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, Dr. Robert Stern, Dr. Daniel Perl, Dave Dursen, Jovan Belcher, Junior Seau, multiple concussions, multiple brain injuries, veterans with CTE, blast injuries and CTE, brain shortage