CTE may one day be spotted by brain scans.
A news study shows that there are reasons to think that one day, doctors will be able to identify people who have the CTE condition, which is similar to Alzheimer`s disease but is caused by the brain`s exposure to concussions and damage to the head of the patient. This condition is often found in former athletes who suffered head concussions during their careers – like football or rugby players or boxers – but it can’t be spotted until after the patient`s death.
Within the new study, researchers took brain scans of 14 retired football players, who normally present a higher risk of developing the CTE condition. Their results were somewhat encouraging, meaning that the researchers may have found a way of spotting CTE in the early phase of the condition. After conducting autopsies on the CTE patients, experts have found that the abnormal protein deposits in the studied cases followed a pattern similar to how the abnormal protein responsible for CTE is usually depositing.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE is a condition responsible for the continuous deterioration of the brain. It is mostly found at athletes or people who were exposed to numerous blows to the head or concussions. Depression, memory loss and dementia are among the symptoms of this terrible condition. No cure has been discovered so far and same goes for finding a diagnosis. There is no way to identify the condition until the patient`s death.
However, this new study aims at suggesting a way of diagnosing the patient with CTE from the first phase of the condition. Experts say that the early aspect of CTE is the most appropriate for an experimental medicine and the most likely to permit the experimental treatment to be successful.
Dr. Julian Bailes, co-author of the study, also emphasized the importance of this new method for the athletes who are thinking about retirement. Dr. Bailes, who is also one of the directors at the Evanston, Illinois-based NorthShore Neurological Institute, said that this research could signal the athletes when is the right time for a pause or even when to end their career. After all, health is of paramount importance to anybody. And these brain scans look like they could really give the athletes a hand into making that difficult decision.
The results of the study were revealed by Dr. Bailes and his fellow researchers in a paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday.
Even if the results are not indefeasible, they were welcomed by the academical communities in the field. They reckon the study is an important step in the fight against CTE.
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