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Researchers have identified evidence of early Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) brain pathology after head impact -- even in the absence of signs of concussion.Early indicators of CTE pathology not only persisted long after injury but also spread through the brain, providing the best evidence to date that head impact, not concussion, causes CTE.Neuropathological analysis of these brains showed a spectrum of post-traumatic pathology, including one case of early-stage CTE and two cases with abnormal accumulation of tau protein.Brains from four age-matched athletes without recent head injury did not show the pathological changes observed in the head-injury group.These findings provide strong evidence -- the best evidence we have so far -- that subconcussive impacts are not only dangerous but also causally linked to CTE," Goldstein said.The unexpected findings led to the third part of the study, which utilized computer simulations performed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, along with mechanical models implemented at Boston University.We were surprised that the brain pathology was unrelated to signs of concussion, including altered arousal and impaired balance, among others.

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Many brain injury survivors cannot accept what they are left with and find it difficult to move on with living.In many cases, they have lost the life they once led and the person they once were.Even if they can't verbalize this realization, they are aware that something is very different."To prevent the disease, you have to prevent head impact -- it's hits to the head that cause CTE," Goldstein added. Goldstein and his colleagues anticipate that their study will advance understanding of how head injuries lead to CTE brain pathology, even in teenagers and young adults, with the goal being to facilitate development of new diagnostics, therapeutics, protective equipment and preventive measures to help people affected by head injuries and at risk for CTE. "Hits, not concussions, cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy: New insights into the disease show head impact, not concussion, triggers CTE and pave way for early detection, prevention and treatment." Science Daily.

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