Monitoring injuries to the brain in athletes

West Virginians who are interested in sports may have heard about the results of a recent study reported in JAMA Neurology on brain imaging in normal individuals and NFL players who had suffered head injuries. The purpose of the study was to show how positron emission tomography might be used to monitor sports injuries to the brain in younger and older players.

The risk for persons who suffer repeated injuries to the head to develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy is greater. This disease may cause problems with making decisions, have memory problems and can culminate in dementia. It has been suggested in a few studies that athletes who are involved in hockey, boxing or football and receive this type of injury may be more likely to develop CTE.

The study, employing PET and MRI testing, may help monitor brain injury in athletes. Currently, CTE is most commonly found when autopsies are performed, but similar symptoms may occur in those without a history of injury to the head. By using a biomarker, physicians may be able to monitor an injury over time and see if the brain heals itself.

Sports participants exhibited changes in the white matter of the brain as well as an increase in a translocator protein, which is normally at low levels in those who have not suffered injuries. However, the PET scan reportedly does not work well in some individuals due to a genetic code variation. The study was designed to try and understand the relationship between head injuries and concussions.

An individual who has suffered an injury to the brain due to another's negligence may face high medical costs, need rehabilitation or be permanently injured. An attorney may assist by examining medical records and other pertinent information and file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages.

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