WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- For the first time, Chicago researchers have detected evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, familiarly known as CTE, in a living patient.
- CTE is a degenerative brain disease acquired by having a history of repetitive brain trauma.
- It is commonly found in military veterans and athletes, like boxers and football players, who usually receive blows to the head.
According to a study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery, 14 ex-NFL players underwent scans to detect the presence of tau, a type of protein that forms a clump over damaged neural cells. The tau gradually spreads to the entire brain, eventually killing brain cells.
The fourteen were still alive during the research. When one of the players died two years after, doctors examined whether the “distinctive CTE pattern” that resulted from his scan actually indicated CTE presence.
After an autopsy, the doctors officially made a CTE diagnosis.
The study reports that the man was 59 when his brain was scanned. At 61, his wife observed that he had continuous motor deficits. Initially, he was unable to button his shirts, tie his shoes or zip his pants. Until he can no longer feed himself.
The ex-player also had muscle twitching in his arms and the muscle mass in his arms and shoulders decreased. Moreover, doctors believed he also suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
In the player’s last months, he was admitted to a nursing home. The study reports that he experienced dehydration, incontinence, slurred speech, neck and limb weakness, and progressive dysphagia.
The man started his football career at a young age of 11. He continued playing until his retirement from the league at 33. The study says that his “cumulative lifetime risk exposure” to the disease is 22 years.
Dr. Julian Bailes, director of neurosurgery and co-director of NorthShore University HealthSystem Neurological Institute, told ABC News that his team was “pleased” with the study.
“The importance of this one today is that this is the first time to have a scan which shows brain degeneration of CTE in a living person and then to have that person die and it correlates with the autopsy,” Bailes, one of the researchers, said.
“We realize and always want to acknowledge that this is only one and more work needs to be done to verify the correlation,” he said, adding that for now, the team is “very, very pleased.”
Additional research is needed to confirm the result of the exam. Researchers said that the ability to detect CTE in the brain of a living patient is vital in understanding the progress of the disease and developing a cure.
The findings from the study also corroborated a previous report that a “fingerprint” signature of CTE exists.
Dr Bennet Omalu, the lead author of the study, told CNN the former NFL player unidentified in the study was longtime Minnesota Vikings linebacker Fred McNeill who died in 2015.
Source: Yahoo News