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Brain injury evident in living NFL players, per study

The medical community is consistently working to expand its understanding of brain injuries. Brain injuries are complex injuries, and while they are understood as such, there is still much to learn about how they happen exactly and how they can be treated.

Virginians might be interested to learn about a new study conducted by Dr. Francis Conidi of the Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology with retired National Football League players as subjects. The study found that more than 40 percent of the players studied showed signs of traumatic brain injury. This rate of brain injury is roughly three times higher than that demonstrated in the general population. According to Dr. Conidi, this study, the largest of its kind, shows "objective evidence" of traumatic brain injuries in still-living NFL players.

Forty retired players were tested with advanced scanning technology, known as diffusion tensor imaging. They also participated in memory and thinking tests. The diffusion tensor imaging scans measure the water flow in various parts of the brain. Of the 40 men tested, 17 of them had brain damage according to this test. This advanced testing technology appears to allow for more detailed analysis of brain injuries, as traditional MRI scans only revealed brain damage in 12 of the 40 players.

Traumatic brain injuries are significant injuries, and they can also be precursors to the degenerative brain disease known as CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This study may help researchers and doctors learn more about head injuries and how best to treat, and even prevent them. The expansion of the medical community's understanding about brain injuries may be good news for those who have experienced brain trauma.

Source: scientificamerican.com, "Study Finds Evidence of Brain Injury in Living NFL Veterans," Frank McGurty, April 12, 2016

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