Shaken brain, with every hard hit to the head.

Even if you don’t get a concussion, a new study in the Journal Brain adds to evidence that’s it’s these high impact hits that lead to CTE – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Dr. Peter McAllister of the New England Institute for Neurology & Headache says studies are getting closer to understanding the root of this disease that can rob athletes and veterans of brainpower.

” We’re starting to hear more and more about folks who have many, many subconcusive hits over the course of a career, and then they’re having dementia, depression, agitation, aggression, some of them have taken their lives,” says McAllister.

“And when we look at their brains, their brains look like Alzheimer’s patients.”

INTERFERENCE… of nerve cells.  

The below cross-section of a brain from Boston University’s CTE Center shows dark yellow where scientists say head trauma likely caused heavy tau protein to deposit. 

While a study last year of the brains of former football players who had neurological issues when they died showed all but one had CTE, symptoms of the disease were first noted in boxers in the 1920’s.

Dr. McAllister says while head trauma may be the cause of CTE, certain genes from both parents can boost your risk.

“A lot of those CTE Chronic Traumatic Encephalapathy patients have the APO-E 4 and 4, the two bad genes. So for example, if I were going to be a boxer, which takes a lot of hits to the head in the course of a career. I would probably check my APO genetic test. And if I was four and four, the two bad genes that would increase my risk for chronic traumatic encephalapathy, I would not box,” says McAllister.

A SIMPLE BLOOD TEST CAN TELL IF YOU HAVE THESE GENES FOR CTE AND ALZHEIMER’S

Looking ahead, Dr. McAllister says research projects will aim to better identify CTE and treat the disease, in part by removing the problematic proteins from CTE patients’ brains.

For more about testing and clinical trials, go to this link New England Institute for Clinical Research.

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Emmy-winning reporter Gillian Neff has been covering health topics for 16 years. She is currently a freelance reporter and anchor at News 12 Connecticut and also pursues her passion for medical news through Gillian Neff Health Reports’ blogs and videos.

Gillian Neff

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