It comes as no news that athletes of high-impact sports suffer damage to the brain in the later stages of their lives. But researchers at John Hopkins Medicine recently used a combination of medical tools to reveal brain injury and repair activity even in younger players. The findings could move research one step closer to developing earlier interventions in the area of brain injury.
Technology Measures Brain Injury Marker TSPO
The study involved the combined use of MRIs and positron emission tomography (PET). PET imaging can measure the brain's level of the protein TSO. Healthy brains contain the protein in lower levels. But when brain injury occurs, cells respond by producing increased levels of TSPO.
A prior study using PET imaging found elevated levels of TSPO in the brains of elderly NFL players. However, researchers were unable to determine whether the results were more linked to such factors as aging and vascular disease.
The latest study on a small number of younger NFL players revealed similarly elevated levels of TSPO. The results were seen in eight of 12 brain regions studied, including the area related to memory. Although researchers did not find the loss of brain tissue, they did discover some evidence of change to the white matter in the players' brains.
The study adds more data suggesting that repeated brain injury from high-impact sports may put individuals at higher risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) - a degenerative brain disease that affected memory, decision-making, and dementia.
The researchers hope that further advancements will eventually contribute to the development of preventative and therapeutic interventions. Meanwhile, Gluckstein Lawyers encourages everyone to take appropriate measures to stay safe while having fun.
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