After the movie “Concussion,” chronic traumatic encephalopathy became known across the nation as a brain disease that has affected numerous former football players ranging from high school to professional level. The disease, also called CTE, is caused by repeated blows to the head. Residents of Washington and elsewhere need to know that CTE does not only affect football players. Anyone who has been struck in the head numerous times may develop the brain condition later in life.
Currently, CTE can be conclusively diagnosed only after a post-mortem autopsy. The medical journal Neurosurgery recently published the results of a study regarding an experimental test to detect a specific protein that is present in the brains of CTE sufferers, while they are still alive. In the study, doctors claimed that the protein, called tau, was present in the brain of a former NFL football player during the brain scan. After the patient’s death in 2015, an autopsy confirmed that he had CTE.
This brain disease can be traumatic for not only the sufferers, but their loved ones as well. Symptoms include anger, depression, memory loss and suicidal thoughts. Family members of those who were later determined to have CTE said that the disease tore their families apart.
The doctor credited for pioneering the scan believes that a test to diagnose CTE in living patients may be commercially available within five years. This news may bring hope to former football players, military personnel and others who have suffered brain trauma that effective treatment for CTE may not be far behind.
Source: CNN, "Ex-NFL player confirmed as 1st case of CTE in living patient," Nadia Kounang, Nov. 16, 2017