Kalter: BU study finds link between mild head hits and CTE

Alarming new BU study shows impacts, not just concussions, lead to brain disease

With more information coming out about chronic traumatic encephalopathy - the degenerative brain disease commonly known as CTE - there's been a spotlight on the NFL's "concussion crisis." The head impacts consistently triggered in mice markers of CTE, like leaky blood vessels, changes in electric functions and the buildup of tau proteins.

The study led by Boston University looked at the brains of four dead teenage athletes who had suffered head injuries days or weeks before they died. "Our findings provide strong causal evidence linking head impact to TBI and early CTE, independent of concussion".

"We may need to re-define what a concussion is or come up with another name for it to keep people safe", Chong said.

The study was led by researchers at Boston University and the VA Boston Healthcare System.

"This is the first experimental evidence to solidly say that it's the hits, not concussions, that count for CTE". They found the mice exposed to the head trauma still exhibited changes in the brain even without a concussion.

"We were able to pick up the type of damage that we saw in the brain and now pick it up in the living animal and this is very helpful as we try to move this into the clinic to try to detect early fingerprints of the disease", Goldstein said. The late National Football League players Frank Gifford, Ken Stabler, Junior Seau, Dave Duerson, and Andre Waters - to name just a few - were diagnosed with CTE after their deaths. "Any meaningful prevention campaign has to focus on preventing all hits to the head, including subconcussive impacts". The research showed clearly just how early and insidiously CTE begins - and without the big blows that are of outsized concern. Dr.

Alarming new BU study shows impacts, not just concussions, lead to brain disease
Study: CTE caused by repeated hits to head, even those that don't cause concussions

Researchers said the key to reducing risk of CTE is reducing the number of head impacts to athletes and soldiers.

CTE is a condition that can only be diagnosed upon death. Having them play non-tackle, flag football can help protect their long-term health, and won't hurt their chances of making it to the NFL one day, the football veterans advise.

"I made a mistake starting tackle football at 9 years old", Buoniconti said in the news release.

"There are going to be policy implications to this", co-author of the study Lee E. Goldstein said, via USA Today.

"We kept this game alive and I want to keep it alive", said Hall of Famer Phil Villapiano, formerly of the Oakland Raiders. To understand the problem better they compared the brains of these four athletes to others of similar age who had not had received a recent head trauma before dying.

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