Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans will likely know that the NFL has come under fire recently for failing to take adequate steps to protect its players from the consequences of repeated head trauma. Contact sports like boxing and football have been linked with the neurological disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, but the degenerative condition is frustrating for doctors because it can currently only be diagnosed after death.
Some of the nation’s leading scientists and brain injury specialists hope to be able to one day diagnose CTE in living patients, and they will be searching for psychiatric, neurological and biometric signs of the condition during a three-year study of 240 men that is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2016. Half of the men involved in the study will be retired professional football players. The other half of the study group will be equally made up of men who never actively engaged in contact sports and men who played the game at the collegiate level.
Abnormal accumulations of tau have been found during several autopsies performed on CTE sufferers, and the scientists involved in the upcoming study say that they will be paying particularly close attention to any chemical markers associated with high levels of that protein. The scientists believe that the chemical changes in the brain that lead to CTE are triggered by prolonged repetitive trauma rather than a small number of significant blows.
Even mild to moderate brain injuries can have a major impact on an individual’s cognitive functioning and personality, and those who suffer such injuries sometimes never recover completely. When their injuries are caused by the negligent actions of others, personal injury attorneys may seek civil remedies on their behalf. The serious nature of brain injuries is not always apparent to the untrained eye, and attorneys may call upon neurological experts to explain to juries the daily challenges faced by plaintiffs who have suffered a severe head trauma.