December 11, 2014 – Football and Brain Injury


Anchor lead:  A new imaging method may help identify specific brain changes relative to repeated head injury, Elizabeth Tracey reports

A specialized form of PET imaging and use of a unique tracer to look at very specific markers of brain injury has enabled Jennifer Coughlin, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, to look at brain changes related to having played football in a series of former NFL players.

Coughlin: What we set out to do was to look at whether there are molecular changes and structural changes in the brains of former NFL players.  We also, in parallel, tested those same former players for deficits in verbal learning and memory.  We looked at nine former players.  From that limited study we do see evidence that there are some molecular and structural changes, and some of those players had the deficits in verbal  learning and memory that we predicted.   :30

Coughlin says this study looked at brain changes many years after players had stopped playing football, but feels the technology would also be useful in current players.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.