Study suggests link between head injuries, brain disease

December 11, 2012

Boston – Multiple head injuries may increase the risk of progressive brain disease, indicates a new study from Boston University.

Researchers studied the post-mortem brains of 85 people with a history of mild traumatic brain injury. The group included 80 athletes – 22 of whom also were military veterans – as well as three veterans with no history of contact sports and a victim of multiple falls. Sixty-eight men – 80 percent – showed signs of a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, according to the study.

Although CTE was the sole diagnosis in 63 percent of cases, participants also were diagnosed with motor neuron disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration.

The study identified symptoms of CTE, which starts with headache and loss of concentration; progress to depression, explosive behavior and short-term memory loss, followed by executive dysfunction and cognitive impairment; and culminate in dementia and aggression.

The study was published online Dec. 2 in the journal Brain.