Concussions not necessary for CTE to develop

Alarming new BU study shows impacts, not just concussions, lead to brain disease

Boston University researchers have a renewed warning on the impact of football: it is hits, not concussions, that lead to CTE.

Researchers from Boston University analyzed brains from teenagers and young adults who had been exposed to mild head impact but died from another cause soon after. The researchers hypothesized that damaged blood vessels leaking into brain tissue may cause early CTE.

The study led by Boston University looked at the brains of four dead teenage athletes who had suffered head injuries days or weeks before they died.

Researchers noted changes to the brain that were indicators of CTE.

"We may need to re-define what a concussion is or come up with another name for it to keep people safe", Chong said.

The Concussion Legacy Foundation, the Boston-based nonprofit behind much of the research on concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), held a news conference in NY to announce the launch of Flag Football Under 14, a program recommending that parents to use age 14 as the dividing line.

"To prevent the disease, you have to prevent head impact - it's hits to the head that cause CTE", added Dr. Compared to the brains of similarly-aged athletes who didn't experience head trauma, all four showed brain changes "including leaky blood vessels and abnormal buildups of the protein tau", which is associated with CTE, reports CNN.

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The study concluded that concussions are not correlated with the disease.

The startling findings show that signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE - which has been strongly linked to football - can occur without telltale signs of concussion.

Goldstein says he's is optimistic about the future of football.

Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez's brain showed classic signs of Stage 3 CTE. Players who compete are, for the most part, well aware of the risks they are taking. "They're getting hurt but they're not getting helped and then they go back and they do it again and again and again". Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed after death, with an autopsy on the brain. Concussions actually saved some players from harm, in reality, by removing them from games and practices in which the smaller impacts continued to accrue.

Buoniconti appeared at the news conference with fellow Hall of Famer Harry Carson of the Giants and Phil Villapiano of the Raiders.

It's "an important study that presents a new hypothesis which, if true, would have implications for public health", said Steven Atlas, MD, MPH, a primary care physician and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who is a contributor to HealthNewsReview.org.

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