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January 29, 2013

Brain Damage Found in NFL Players

For the first time, CTE has been found in five former NFL players who are still alive. CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a debilitating brain disease associated with dementia, memory loss, and depression. Researchers say the disease is related to previous repetitive head trauma and, until this study, had only been seen in the brains of deceased players.

Conducted at UCLA, the study may lead to the detection of CTE in living patients. Dr. Julian Bailes says that “identifying CTE in a living person is the holy grail for this disease and for us to be able to make advances in treatment.”

CTE is the buildup of an abnormal protein in the brain called tau, which strangles brain cells, usually concentrated in areas controlling memory and emotions. Researchers hope these findings lead to the development of preventative treatment and diagnosis before the disease takes over the brain.

All five players used in the study showed signs of the protein tau with a new brain imaging tool used in the study. The study suggests that mandatory testing for all players should be required. Early detection of CTE would be the first step in preventing progression of the disease.

The lawsuit against the NFL for concealing the risk of brain damage now involves 4000 players.

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