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Tests may help spot brain damage after even mild concussions

(Reuters Health) – Brain scans may help identify athletes who suffer from brain damage after mild concussions, a small study of current and former professional football players suggests.

Researchers examined results from what’s known as positron emission tomography (PET) scans for four current and 10 former National Football League (NFL) players who had at least one previous concussion as well as for 16 similar men who weren’t athletes and had no history of concussions.

They measured levels of a substance called translocator protein 18KDa (TSPO), which are thought to rise when the brain responds to traumatic injuries.

Compared with men who weren’t in the NFL, the football players had higher levels of TSPO and greater changes in the brain’s white matter, the study found. – READ MORE