Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine released a new study Thursday that shows how hits to the head, not just concussions, cause degenerative brain disease. But not everyone experiences these symptoms, and so "by looking at concussion, it's not telling you anything about the brain or CTE", he added.
The disease is marked by abnormal deposits of calcium and proteins throughout the brain, as well as by neuropsychiatric symptoms that range from tremors and memory problems to depression and suicidal rage.
Researchers say for too long, people have believed only concussions lead to CTE. The researchers also used mice to simulate sports- and blast-related head injuries and worked with computer models.
Through brain scans, researchers did detect leaky blood vessels in the brains of those mice subjected to head impacted. The same conditions present in the head-injured teenage athletes' brains were present in the head-injured mice - completely unrelated to signs of concussion.
Goldstein says the goal moving forward is to develop new diagnostics, therapeutics, protective equipment and preventive measures to hell those affected by head injuries.
The study concludes that concussions have no correlation with the disease. In the deep recesses of the organ's folds, these damaged blood vessels were letting proteins spill into nearby brain tissue, triggering inflammation, they surmised. Goldstein said that while the new work advanced understanding of the mechanisms underlying CTE, it's not clear how frequently people experience these types of changes in the brain.
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"It advanced our understanding of what is happening at the cellular and even sub-celluar levels in the brain when an impact occurs", said Dr. Comstock.
His latest study puts a spotlight on them, providing what Goldstein says is "solid scientific evidence" that hits to the head-even one-result in brain changes associated with CTE, independent of concussion.
"There are going to be policy implications to this", co-author of the study Lee E. Goldstein said, via USA Today.
The results may explain why approximately 20 percent of athletes who were found to have CTE after they died had never received a concussion diagnosis when they were alive, Goldstein said.
"At some point, those of us who have had success in this game must speak up to protect both football players and the future of the game, and supporting "Flag Football Under 14" is our best way to do that", he said.
The study took seven years and involved researchers from Boston University, the Cleveland Clinic, Harvard Medical School, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Oxford University.