Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

New Research Pinpoints Concussion Damage in Living Football Players

Historically, one of the biggest barriers to understanding the link between concussions and brain damage has been the fact that the damage can only be confirmed at autopsy. All that may be about to change:

Researchers at UCLA have announced a major finding that could save the lives of football players and other contact-sports athletes who’ve suffered countless traumatic brain injuries.

In the war against head trauma in football, one of the most vexing problems has been how to identify and treat a condition known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. CTE is a form of brain damage that’s caused by multiple blows to the head and is believed to be the culprit in the high-profile suicides of former players such as Junior Seau, of the San Diego Chargers, and Dave Duerson, of the Chicago Bears. Until now, doctors haven’t been able to diagnose CTE in living people; they’ve had to dissect players’ brains postmortem to spot the telltale signs. [Popular Science]

The researchers used PET scans to visualize abnormal protein deposits in the brain, a hallmark of post-concussion syndrome.


[Photo credit: KJ Holiday, Creative Commons.]