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Exam of former NFL player confirms CTE in live person for first time

A plethora of former NFL players currently alive believe that they are suffering through the symptoms of Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a well-known disorder that is believed to stem from continued brain trauma.

Though, up until now, the only official diagnosis could come postmortem. That might very well be on the verge of changing. A breakthrough by researchers at Evanston’s NorthShore University HealthSystem might change the entire way we look at CTE and the impact it has on living people.

Four years ago, researchers at NorthShore University started using brain scans to help detect the hallmarks of CTE as a way to help better understand whether living subjects were suffering through the condition. After one of the subjects passed away, they got their confirmation.

“In a paper published last week in the journal Neurosurgery, Bailes and other researchers reported that one of the former players who had undergone a scan had his brain examined after he died — and sure enough, the tissue revealed that he had been suffering from CTE,” the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.

The deceased player is not yet known, but this is a landmark breakthrough for those in the field of studying Chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It could potentially lead to the medical field being able to diagnose and treat individuals afflicted by the disorder while they’re still alive.

Among those former NFL players who believe they are living with CTE, Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett recently gave us a larger understanding of what it is like to live through the disorder. And it’s some pretty sobering stuff (more on that here).

At the very least, this could lead to former NFL players getting the help they need before it’s too late. We’ve all read the stories of those who have committed suicide, only to have been found to have suffered through CTE following their deaths. If this can save some lives, the research itself was well worth it.