How a Scan May Detect Concussion-Related Brain Disease | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

How a Scan May Detect Concussion-Related Brain Disease

January 31, 2013

Concussions are an inevitable part of sports. Any time you combine high speed with contact, you increase the risk of brain injury.

Fortunately, concussions are detectable—assuming the athlete accurately reports his or her symptoms—and trainers and doctors can take immediate action to help prevent further injury. However, in the long term, concussions can have much more serious consequences.

Athletes who experience repeated contact to the head during their careers may suffer from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). “CTE is a neuro-degenerative brain disease caused by too much trauma to the brain,” explains Chris Nowinski, co-founder and president of the Sports Legacy Institute. “At some threshold, cells start dying. When you lose enough of those cells, your brain doesn’t work as well, and you show symptoms, like memory and emotional problems, behavioral changes and impulse control issues.”

Recently, the suicide of former NFL defensive star Junior Seau was linked to CTE, despite the fact that Seau was never diagnosed with a concussion. Doctors didn't even consider that he could have been suffering from this insidious disease.

The problem is that CTE is only detectable during an autopsy. If doctors had identified CTE as the root of Seau’s problem, they could have implemented measures to prevent his tragic end.

Fortunately, new research conducted at UCLA may have discovered a way to detect signs of CTE in living athletes.

UCLA researchers injected five former NFL athletes who experience symptoms of CTE with a radioactive marker, then used a scan called positron emission tomography (PET). The scans consistently identified the presence of tau protein, which is present in brains afflicted by CTE.

Early CTE detection has huge implications for athletes' long-term brain health. Doctors may some day use the technique to test athletes and identify those who are at risk. Athletes can then take action to reduce the risk of further brain damage, improving their chance of living a quality life.

Although the study is a significant breakthrough, more research is needed to accurately correlate PET scan results to CTE. Yet some day, this method might be widely used to diagnose CTE and help athletes like Seau avoid the long-term effects of brain trauma.

Source: CNN

Topics: NEWS | CONCUSSION
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

How to Protect Yourself From Heat Stroke This Summer

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

Protect Your Brain With This Neck Workout

Why a Sports Hernia Won't Ruin Jadeveon Clowney's Rookie Season

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

Study Finds Link Between Head Trauma and Brain Disease

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

Reducing Concussion Risk in Youth Athletes

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

Can Soccer Lead to Brain Trauma?

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

Concussion FAQs

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

How to Avoid Softball Pitching Injuries

How a Scan May Detect Concussion-Related Brain Disease

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

Concussions Are an Epidemic in Women's Sports Too

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Are Concussions Destroying Football?

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

3 Reasons to Correct Your Weak Links to Prevent Common Injuries

Can a Mouthpiece Improve Performance?

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

How to Prevent Common Basketball Injuries

Four Simple Tips to Understand and Prevent Concussions

Female Athletes Need to Watch Out for Concussions, Too

3 Ways to Protect Your Knees and Prevent ACL Injuries

Protect Yourself With Battle Sports Science Gear

2 Game-Changing Protective Football Gear Products

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

Learn From Brian Roberts' Self-Inflicted Concussion

Will Joel Embiid Be Able to Succeed in the NBA?

Wear a Mouthguard to Prevent Concussions

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

Axon Sports Concussion Baseline Testing Giveaway

Play It Safe With the 5 Pillars of Heads Up Football

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

Concussion Awareness Takes the Stage in Congress

Can Wii Fit Help With Concussion Rehab?

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

Should Women Lacrosse Players Wear Helmets?

How Cristiano Ronaldo Can Defeat the Witch Doctor's Curse

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

STACK Concussion Awareness and Prevention Series