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Study finds PET scan might help to diagnose CTE

There is much that is yet unknown regarding how a brain responds to repeated or a serious injury. One condition that has been receiving a lot of attention as of late is chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Also referred to as CTE, those who have it could suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Aggression
  • Progressive dementia

While the presence of these symptoms could indicate the presence of the disease, currently it is only possible to definitely diagnose it after death. Experts in the field are hoping to develop a way to make that diagnosis earlier. An early diagnosis could be beneficial because it is at that point when experimental treatments have the greatest chance of being successful.

An approach that shows promise is the use of brain scans. A recent study focused on that approach. It focused on a total of 14 retired professional football players who all have a history of repeated blows to the head and concussions. Of those 14 individuals, one did not exhibit any symptoms of CTE, 12 had mild cognitive impairment and one had dementia.

They all underwent PET scans after being injected with a substance that would make it possible to see any deposits of the abnormal protein that appears in the brains of people who have CTE. The results, which were released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reported that deposits of the protein were discovered in the scans presenting in patterns similar to what is seen during the autopsy of someone who has been diagnosed with the disease.

Brain injuries can happen to people of all ages for a variety of reasons. It is possible that studies such as these could eventually have an impact on the treatment for injuries suffered in other situations as well.

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