Dale Earnhardt Jr. 'Happy' About Boston University's New CTE Findings

20 January, 2018, 04:05 | Author: Earnest Huff
  • Alarming new BU study shows impacts, not just concussions, lead to brain disease

Doctors at BU have found constant hits to young athletes - even without concussions - cause Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. His new paper has shown the same is true for head hits in sports. The first method was a postmortem examination of four teenage brains who played contact sports, while the other was observation of mice who showed abnormalities in brain function after suffering brain trauma that did not produce concussion symptoms-namely, nausea, dizziness or disorientation.

Concussions were previously seen as the major cause of CTE, but new data suggests that frequent hits to the head, not necessarily concussions, bring about CTE.

The study's authors say about 20 percent of known cases of CTE had no record or report of concussion.

They found early evidence inside the brain consistent with signs of CTE, including abnormal accumulation of tau protein.

Researchers studied the brains of four young athletes who had suffered head injuries a few days before their deaths, and the brains of four other athletes who had not had any recent head traumas.

Researchers hypothesized that early CTE may result from damaged blood vessels in the brain that become leaky, resulting in blood proteins spilling into brain tissue and triggering brain inflammation, according to the study.

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Researchers took their work a step further and replicated repeated hits to the head and blast exposures with lab mice. The mice's brain scans showed leakage in the blood vessels that were similar to those of the teenagers' brains with head injuries. "We're seeing the earliest pathology soon after one of these injuries", he said.

Sure enough, these deposits appeared to start in the deep recesses of the brain's folds, where the hallmarks of full-fledged CTE are most clearly seen in humans too. "And by hits, I mean all of them", said Dr.

CTE is typically associated with professional football players and military veterans.

The Concussion Legacy Foundation has launched the Flag Football Under 14 program, which does exactly what it sounds like it does: advocates for athletes under the age of 14 to play flag football - or something else - and wait to try tackle football until reaching high school.

The study took seven years and involved researchers from Boston University, the Cleveland Clinic, Harvard Medical School, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Oxford University. Until now, the focus was on any concussions they received.

"The overwhelming majority of people whose brains are hurt are going right back in and doing the worst thing possible: getting hit again and again", Goldstein said.

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