Hits, not concussions, cause degenerative brain disease

20 January, 2018, 04:07 | Author: Clint Gray
  • Neuropathologist Dr. Ann Mc Kee shows Sharyn Alfonsi brain scans indicating the presence of CTE               CBS News

"You can play football differently".

The research, published in the journal Brain, analyzed the brains of both humans and mice to reach its conclusions. Over the summer, a group of researchers examined the brains of 111 National Football League players and published a study showing that 110 of them suffered from CTE. The athletes died 1, 2, 10 and 128 days, respectively, after sustaining their injuries. According to researchers, in order to fully address and reduce the risk of CTE among athletes and veterans, a reduction of head impacts is needed, as focusing on concussions does not particularly address the root of the problem.

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Get the latest health and science news, plus: burning questions and expert tips. "It can heal itself, but yet small injuries over time can lead to significant chronic damage, so it's just going to take time for us to understand the brain", Tran said.

Efforts to protect athletes have largely focused on preventing concussions, but the study suggests that head injuries that are not strong enough to cause a concussion can also lead to CTE. "These results were surprising and alarming", says Dr.

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"It's the hits to the head, not concussion, that trigger CTE", says Lee Goldstein, associate professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine and a co-author of the study. What really causes CTE more precisely? In all four brains, there were already changes to the brain that could be indicators of CTE, including leaky blood vessels and abnormal buildups of the protein tau. There was no correlation between the presence or severity of concussion and CTE pathology.

"This disease and the injuries associated with it, that precede it, are triggered not by the signs and symptoms that we see with someone that's having a concussion", Goldstein said. "Concussions can not be the cause of CTE".

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Over recent years, the focus has been specifically on concussions, head injuries that lead to symptoms like headache, confusion dizziness, but scientists at BU say that repetitive hits that don't meet the criteria of concussion can damage blood vessels. "There's a lot of precautions we take even before we hit the ice, so much of that has to do with training kids the right way, teaching them how to respect each other on ice, even opponents", said Christian Grunnah, a hockey coach. "I did not play tackle football until high school, and I will not allow my grandson to play until 14, as I believe it is not an appropriate sport for young children". "We now have solid scientific evidence to say that is so". "Maybe we need to think about whether or not we want to expose our own kids to something that can be inducing lifelong harm, and accelerating a neurodegenerative disease".

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