Why can’t MRIs be used to diagnose CTE caused by football related injuries?



Why can’t MRIs be used to diagnose CTE caused by football related injuries?

In: Biology

As concussions tend to be non-structural injuries, they generally do not result in brain bleeding. Due to this, there is a lack of distinct biomarkers which routine neuroimaging tests (in this case, MRIs) look for.

In recent years, there’s been a lot of research done on identifying possible biomarkers, as well as distinguishing it from other diseases (such as Alzheimer’s).

CTE is typically caused after repeated head injuries, usually years (decades) later. It seems to be more closely correlated with more forceful impact such that you would find with military, or with professional sports or professional fighters/wrestlers due to the force of impact, the space between injuries without adequate heal time, and the number of head injuries. However, even in those who don’t play professional sports or are in the military, if not given proper heal time and sustaining multiple head injuries can increase chances but the exact percentage is unknown. Imaging is not nearly strong enough to pick up the physical signs or damage to the brain unfortunately. Typical symptoms include behavior, personality, or judgement changes, impulse control issues, and emotional disturbance. Unfortunately there is very little to be done to prevent it, just short of avoiding concussion, and no way to truly diagnose it prior to autopsy. Research is ongoing.

**I am a medical assistant for my hospitals concussion and brain injury program for the last 6 years. We get asked these questions all the time.