By Dr. Brian McDonough

KYW’s Medical Reports Sponsored By Independence Blue Cross

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It is a sad truth, but some of the best research in concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE is being done on the brains of NFL players.

Most of the work is done on brain specimens after the players have died. But researchers at Mount Sinai in New York City are looking at ways to help patients while alive. The researchers are studying something called a tau radiotracer which looks at a chemical in the brain associated with dementia.

They describe the case of a 39-year-old retired NFL player who had 22 concussions over the course of his 11-year career — four of which resulted in loss of consciousness. He was complaining of personality changes. The researchers found a pattern of tau deposition in the brain that was consistent with CTE.

The researchers used pet scans and found tau outlining the wrinkles of the brain near the surface —a sign of CTE.

The sad truth is there are thousands of players at the high school, college and pro level — perhaps even grade school players — who have experienced concussions and potential long-term brain damage.

This tool may help to diagnose the problems early.

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