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Boston Univ., Veterans Affairs find sports brain trauma may cause disease mimicking ALS
Date:8/17/2010

(BOSTON) The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that they have provided the first pathological evidence that repetitive head trauma experienced in collision sports is associated with motor neuron disease, a neurological condition that affects voluntary muscle movements. The most common form of motor neuron disease is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease. The findings will be published in the September issue of the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology (http://journals.lww.com/jneuropath).

The finding was discovered by Ann McKee, MD, and colleagues at the CSTE. McKee, a CSTE Co-Director, is an associate professor of neurology and pathology at BUSM, as well as Director of Neuropathology for the Department of Veterans Affairs at the Bedford VA Medical Center, where this research was conducted.

McKee and the CSTE researchers made this groundbreaking pathological discovery while examining the brains and spinal cords of 12 athletes donated by family members to the CSTE Brain Bank at the Bedford VA Medical Center. Three of these 12 athletes, including former professional football players Wally Hilgenberg and Eric Scoggins, as well as an unidentified former military veteran and professional boxer, developed motor neuron disease late in their lives. The former football players were diagnosed clinically with ALS, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in muscle weakness and atrophy. ALS affects fewer than two in 100,000 patients annually, and 30,000 Americans currently live with the disease. The majority of ALS cases (90-95 percent) are considered "sporadic," meaning of unknown cause, although it has long been suspected to involve a complex interaction betwee
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Contact: Gina DiGravio
gina.digravio@bmc.org
617-638-8480
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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