Until now, it has only been possible to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of dead individuals. The condition affects the brain and is believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head. However, starting in the summer of 2016, scientists will try to diagnose the condition in a living patient. It is part of a seven-year study that has a clear goal but no clear pathway as to how that goal will be achieved.
The study, called DIAGNOSE CTE, is being conducted by Boston University in conjunction with a variety of other experts. It will study the brains of 240 men, and half of them were athletes who spent time playing in the NFL. Another 60 have played college football while another 60 never engaged in contact sports on a recurring basis. All of the participants in the study are between the ages of 45 and 74.
Researchers will track the participants for three years and look for any changes in their brain. Specifically, they will look for any abnormal buildup of a protein known as tau. With the information gathered, they hope that they can diagnose the condition in a living patient and then use the data to slow down its progression. Some believe that any such breakthrough could be life-saving and do more to protect those who play football.
Although brain injuries are popularly associated with football and other contact sports, they can result from a variety of other situations, such as a car accident or a sudden fall. Victims may want to have legal assistance in seeking accident compensation when the injury is due to the negligence of another party.