HEAD CASE: Football, concussion and brain damage
THOUSANDS of Australian ex-footballers are living
with brain damage, early onset dementia and depression caused by
repeated head injuries, says a leading researcher in neurology.
New evidence linking serious trauma to contact football has
emerged in the US, using advanced brain scanning technology.
The research is so compelling that more than 4000 ex-players are
suing America's National Football League (NFL) for damages.
Scientists at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
have used positron emission tomography (PET) scans on living
ex-players to detect a link between concussions and brain
conditions such as dementia and depression.
Previously these studies could only be conducted post
The UCLA study found evidence of the trace protein tau (FDDNP),
indicative of the degenerative brain condition known as chronic
traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Tau levels were highest among players who'd experienced numerous
concussions. The UCLA says this "suggests a link between the
players' history of head injury and FDDNP binding".
Their findings were published in the American Journal of
"If this research continues in the direction we expect, it would
have a big impact on the early detection of this condition, helping
us to develop interventions that could delay the onset of
symptoms," said leading researcher, Dr Gary Small.
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