One of the troubling things about a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is that there is a chance that more serious conditions will come from them. One of these is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which has been undiagnosable until an autopsy is done after someone’s death. This is very troublesome because CTE can cause significant issues, including the person becoming violent or turning to suicide.
Scientists are working on trying to find a way to diagnose this condition prior to death. Recently, a small study looked into the cases of seven military personnel who all showed some of the signs of CTE that occur while a person is still living. The two active duty service members and five veterans had a molecular tracer injected into them and then had a PET scan.
The tracer is radioactive and binds with proteins in the brain that are abnormal. The results of those scans were then compared to 28 healthy people, 12 who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia and 15 people who were retired from football and showed signs of CTE after having suffered brain injuries.
One interesting point that was noted was that all of the football players who were evaluated had scans that were consistent with those of people who had CTE confirmed during an autopsy after they died. While this isn’t a surefire way to diagnose CTE, it is a big step in the right direction.
One person notes that coming up with a reliable CTE test for patients who are living is probably at least a few years into the future. Hopefully, this will happen so that anyone who suffers a head injury can receive appropriate treatment if they have this troubling condition.