BOSTON (WIVB) — A medical test could, one day, save the lives of many athletes.
A growing number of NFL veterans say they have symptoms of a condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Diagnosing CTE has only been possible by examining the brain of someone who has died.
Now, researchers say they could find CTE in living patients.
Researchers at Boston University compared the brains of former college and pro football players to the brains on non-athletes with and without Alzheimer’s disease.
They found levels of a “bio-marker” called CCL11 normal in both groups of non-athletes, but significantly higher in individuals with CTE.
They say the more the athletes played, the higher the CCL11 levels. That could change the game when it comes to treating athletes.
Study author Jonathan Cherry says “The hope is to be able to diagnosis it before people have any symptoms whatsoever, and then we can treat it and cure it. That’s the long term, end of the road goal for us.”
Pro athletes who spent their careers in Buffalo say it’s tough living with CTE symptoms.
Joe DeLamielleure played in the NFL for 12 years, including several seasons with the Buffalo Bills. He says he probably sustained hundreds of concussions.
West Seneca native Justin Strzelczyk played with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2004, he died in a crash with a tanker truck on the Thruway.
An examination of his brain, afterwards, showed brain damage that appeared to come from repeated hits on the field.