New study finds young athletes at risk of CTE

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A new study from Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center found young, amateur athletes who mostly play football, soccer, and ice hockey showed signs of the degenerative brain disease.

Of those athletes examined, 41.4% had signs of CTE, who had died under the age of 30. The study included the first American female athlete diagnosed with CTE, a 28-year-old college soccer player.

Dr. Glynnis Zieman, medical director of the Brain Injury and Sports Neurology Center at Phoenix’s Barrow Neurological Institute, joined Arizona Horizon to discuss the latest trends in sport-related concussions.

Dr. Zieman advises the Arizona Interscholastic Association, serves as a sideline concussion observer for ASU athletics and as a neurotrauma consultant for the NFL. She also serves as the medical director of Barrow’s Domestic Violence Brian Injury Program, the first program of its kind in the nation that identifies and treats women and men with traumatic brain injuries caused by domestic abuse.

“As of now there is no way to diagnose this in a living person, over time as we get more studies we get some idea of what this can clinically look like when someone is alive,” Dr. Zieman said.

Samples were pulled from the BU-led UNITE Brain Bank, more than 1,400 brains were donated after death for study. According to the study, the majority of the athletes with CTE had a mild, early stage of the disease, but a small number had reached the third of its four stages.

“We need to know who is more at risk and it comes down to keeping the sport safe,” Dr. ZIeman said.

Dr. Glynnis Zieman, medical director of the Brain Injury and Sports Neurology Center at Phoenix's Barrow Neurological Institute

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