Study finds CTE may be caused without concussions

Study finds CTE may be caused without concussions
Posted at 1:58 PM, Jan 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-18 11:04:22-05

(RNN) - A study released by the Boston University School of Medicine suggests that concussions are not directly responsible for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE.

Researchers examined the brains of four deceased teenage athletes who suffered recent injuries, some as soon as a day prior to death, in a study released Thursday.

According to the journal, Brain, the four teenage subjects included two 18-year-olds, one who died by suicide four months after a head injury, and another who died suddenly 10 days after the second of two sports-related head injuries.

The study also included two 17-year-olds, one who died by suicide from hanging, after suffering a concussion two days before, and another who suffered three sports-related concussions before his death.

Researchers also studied the brains of four  other athletes of similiar age without recent head injuries. Researcher found they did not show signs of CTE.

Lee E. Goldstein, an associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine and College of Engineering, led the research team.

“The same brain pathology that we observed in teenagers after head injury was also present in head-injured mice," Goldstein said, “The results may explain why approximately 20 percent of athletes with CTE never suffered a diagnosed concussion.”

The controversy surrounding CTE stems from concerned parents of young athletes and families of current and former NFL players.

In 2017 Boston University researchers revealed that after studying the brains of former NFL players, they found evidence of CTE in 110 out of 111 samples.

Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University’s CTE Center and a co-author on this current study said, to reduce CTE risk in contact sport athletes and military veterans, there must be a reduction in the number of head impacts.

CTE is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by abnormal accumulation of tau protein around small blood vessels in the brain. CTE causes brain cell death, cognitive deficits, and dementia.

The study was funded by the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which aims to advance the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes and other at-risk groups.

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