Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Boston University Study: Concussions Don't Lead to CTE

Alarming new BU study shows impacts, not just concussions, lead to brain disease Study: Hits, not concussions, cause brain disease
Carol Daniels | 20 January, 2018, 04:05

"It was just take a deep breath, get back out there", said Andrew Bediz, the father of a hockey player. "This is the first experimental evidence to solidly say that it's the hits, not concussions, that count for CTE".

A group of former NFL players has partnered with the Concussion Legacy Foundation to encourage parents to only allow their kids to play flag football.

Results of the new study show that when head injuries or "hits" happen, the blood vessels leak proteins to the brain and its adjacent tissues, causing them to be inflamed.

Although the study was small, Goldstein said studying even single cases of CTE can help researchers develop hypothesis to test.

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. "What it tells us is as these hits are occurring even in the early aftermath - days, weeks, months after these injuries, this disease is already being kicked off".

One teen's brain showed early-stage CTE and two others had buildup of tau protein, an indicator of CTE found in athletes and soldiers who have suffered brain trauma. "We were surprised that the brain pathology was unrelated to signs of concussion".

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That head impact caused persistent changes in brain electrical functions, which may explain cognitive difficulties experienced by some people after these injuries, according to investigators. The brains of those who did not experience head injuries did not have the same signs, the researchers state. Goldstein and his colleagues also measured the mice for concussion-like symptoms by testing their arousal and balance.

The researchers argue that their findings published in the journal Brain provide a strong causal evidence that links head impacts to both traumatic brain injury and early CTE, "independent of concussion". Concussion is "not only not correlated, we can decouple it", said Goldstein. CTE causes cell death and has been linked to erratic behavior and dementia.

Individuals suffering from CTE will suffer gradually deterioration of their brains and will end up losing brain mass over the years or decades. "How and why exactly this manifests, who is at risk, and why - these are questions that we as researchers and clinicians are working to answer", Sills said.

Tran wasn't involved in the study but reviewed its findings.

An earlier study out of BU found CTE in 110 of the 111 brains donated from National Football League players. However, there is a potential bias, as numerous studied brains came from players who experienced clinical CTE symptoms when living, such as memory loss, rage and mood swings. The more important factor are blows to the head in general.

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