In a new study testing the brains from 202 deceased football players—ranging from high school to the NFL—87 percent tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head that causes symptoms such as confusion, memory loss, depression and dementia. Symptoms often arise years after causation. Specifically, 111 of those brains studied belonged to NFL players, of which 110 had CTE.
By the time patients are diagnosed with Alzheimer's, most will already have experienced memory loss and motor-skill decline. But now, researchers at University College London (UCL) have perfected a cutting-edge form of PET (positron emission tomography) scanning, called amyloid PET, that allows them to use radioactive tracers in the brain to spot the telltale proteins that build up in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and other dementias, as much as 15 years before any symptoms.