Possible CTE diagnosis may give concussion patients hope

If you are a football fan or played the game in high school or college, you may be familiar with the medical term CTE, meaning chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This is a brain disease that results from repeated strikes to the head. Not surprisingly, former professional football players have shown to be susceptible to the condition, as well as members of the military, boxers and professional fighters. However, there may be cause for anyone in New York and elsewhere who has suffered multiple concussions or minor head blows over a lifetime to be concerned that they may develop this destructive disease, especially since it cannot be positively diagnosed when you are alive.

CTE can be devastating for sufferers and their families. Some of the symptoms you or a loved one might experience include memory loss, confusion, aggression and depression. The disease may be difficult to treat because there is no way to know for certain whether you have it.

Promising brain scan developed

Currently, the only way to definitively diagnose CTE is by a brain autopsy after death. However, some doctors are hopeful that a new brain scan might pave the way for a reliable diagnostic CTE test in living patients within the next several years. A study, published in the medical journal Neurosurgery, describes how a former NFL football player participated in the experimental brain scan. Doctors said they were able to identify certain proteins, called tau, which are present in brains of patients who have CTE. After the football player’s death in 2015, doctors were able to positively diagnose him as having the brain disease.

Hope for preventive treatments or a cure

If this experimental scan brings hope that a diagnosis in living patients will be available soon, then you might also have reason to hope a treatment plan will not be far behind. Currently, doctors may only be able to manage the difficult symptoms of CTE without having any way of knowing for sure that their patients have the disease. It is to be hoped that identifying the disease with a reliable scan may lead to preemptive treatments and possibly a cure.

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