Boston University strengthens the case for CTE

Boston University strengthens the case for CTE

Boston : MA : USA | Dec 04, 2012 at 9:24 AM PST
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Further research shows that CTE is associated to repetitive head trauma in contact sports

According to Vice Admiral Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA, Surgeon General of the United States, stated to scientists and advocates at the first-ever CTE conference at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Nevada, “CTE can start months or years after brain trauma has occurred, either in contact sports, military service, or perhaps even partner violence.”

View slideshow: CTE and contact sports

A new study from Boston University adds to the mounting evidence of contact sports are directly associated to brain damage. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE is a progressive degenerative disease, diagnosed post-mortem in individuals with a history of multiple concussions and other forms of head injury. . Individuals with CTE may show symptoms that include depression, confusion and aggression.

In this new study Dr. Ann McKee, Professor of Neurology and Pathology at Boston University School of Medicine, Neuropathology Service for the New England Veterans Administration Medical Centers, Chief Neuropathologist for the National VA ALS Brain Bank and Co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, and colleagues had analyzed post-mortem brains obtained from a cohort of 85 subjects with histories of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury and found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in 68 subjects and found evidence of CTE. The brains were from males; aged 17 to 98 years that included 64 athletes and 21 military veterans in which 86% were athletes and one individual who engaged in self-injurious head banging behavior. Almost 33% of the men played in the NFL, four were in the NHL, and seven were professional boxers and one in the Canadian Football League. Also noted among the athlete group were the athletes were running back Carlton Chester Gilchrist ((May 25, 1935 – January 10, 2011), Hall of Fame running back Ollie Matson (May 1, 1930 – February 19, 2011) and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Mackey (September 24, 1941 – July 6, 2011).

Eighteen age- and gender-matched individuals without a history of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury served as control subjects.

There are four stages of CTE; symptoms in stage I chronic traumatic encephalopathy included headache and loss of attention and concentration. Stage II included depression, explosivity and short-term memory loss. Stage III, executive dysfunction and cognitive impairment were found, and in stage IV, dementia, word-finding difficulty and aggression were characteristic.

Data on athletic exposure were available for 34 American football players; the stage of chronic traumatic encephalopathy correlated with increased duration of football play, survival after football and age at death.

CTE was the only diagnosis in 43 of the cases or 63%, eight cases diagnosed with motor neuron disease or 13%, seven cases of Alzheimer’s disease or 11%, seven diagnosed with Lewy body disease or 16% and four cases with frontotemporal lobar degeneration or 6%.

The researchers had written in their conclusion “The frequent association of chronic traumatic encephalopathy with other neurodegenerative disorders suggests that repetitive brain trauma and hyperphosphorylated tau protein deposition promote the accumulation of other abnormally aggregated proteins including TAR DNA-binding protein 43, amyloid beta protein and alpha-synuclein.”

Dr. Robert Cantu, MA, MD, FACS, FACSM, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery at BUSM, Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Chairman Department of Surgery, Chief Neurosurgery Service, Director Service Sports Medicine at Emerson Hospital stated to the Los Angeles Times "While it remains unknown what level of exposure to brain trauma is required to trigger CTE, there is no available evidence that occasional, isolated or well-managed concussions give rise to CTE.”

This study appears in the journal of neurology Brain.

Some the newest information on CTE which was presented at the CTE conference had come from boxers and other martial arts professionals who have joined the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study in Las Vegas. For that study the following will be looked at; fighters history and fight statistics which will be combined with mental testing yearly, brain scans and speech and blood samples. The goal is to help identify the early signs of the disease and track the disease progression.

Dr. Charles Bernick, associate medical director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, principal investigator for the study stated to the Las Vegas Sun in April of this year, “The implication is that changes are beginning in the brain that are detectable years before we get symptoms.” “If you can intervene before that point, you may be able to avert long term complications.”

He adds “In the long run, we hope to be able to identify who’s at greatest risk and what measures might predict that a person’s on their way to these chronic brain diseases.”

This study as of April had 175 firefighters enrolled and are hoping to have more than 600 for this study which runs for four years.

Scientists are also urging for measures for the prevention of CTE in children. Children are more susceptible to develop CTE after head injury.

To learn more about CTE you can find out information, research, case studies and more at the website for the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.


Associated Content; NFL players and CTE

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53% of patients with traumatic brain injury suffered major depression at least once in the year following their injury
53% of patients with traumatic brain injury suffered major depression at least once in the year following their injury
Debbie Nicholson is based in Detroit, Michigan, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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