Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is caused by repeated blows to the head, results in a unique form of dementia that includes irrational anger, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and poor impulse control. In the United States, the CTE Center at Boston University is at the forefront of research and advocacy for victims of CTE. Many athletes, from hockey players and boxers to football and soccer pros are signing up to donate their brains for research after they die. The efforts are spreading to other countries as well. In Sydney, the first case of CTE in an Australian Union rugby player was found this year and a brain bank there is hoping to get more athletes to get on board with post-mortem brain donation.
At the Brain and Mind Centre in Sydney, which is a sister brain bank to the one in Boston, Dr. Mark Buckland is trying to get a variety of samples for the brain bank. While CTE comes from blows to the head, each sport and each player is different and having samples from different kinds of head impacts is key to finding out how the disease progresses in different patients. Given the billion dollars in lawsuits pending now in the US from NFL and NHL players and families, fine-tuning the best way to research the injuries and hopefully find treatments is a critical task that’s taking on global proportions.