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HEAD CASE: Football, concussion and brain damage


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 mortem.

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 Geriatric Psychiatry.


"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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