Photo courtesy Boston University School of Medicine

'60 Minutes' highlights research into military brain injuries

January 09, 2018 - 1:19 pm
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On Sunday night, '60 Minutes' featured a segment on combat veterans with brain injuries and how some of them are being diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.

The program featured Dr. Ann McKee, the chief of neuropathology at VA Boston and director of Boston University’s CTE Center, whom ConnectingVets interviewed in October 2017 about her research to diagnose CTE in living patients.

Currently, the only way to determine CTE in someone with a history of head trauma is to exam their brain tissue after death. Using a brain bank, McKee is able to conduct research into brain injuries suffered by athletes as well as veterans.

Sgt. Tom Bates, an Army veteran who suffered from four IED blasts, was interviewed by '60 Minutes' about his struggles with a traumatic brain injury and trying to find treatment.

He joined a study at New York's Mount Sinai hospital, run by neurologist Dr. Sam Grady, that is trying to diagnose CTE in living recipients.  By using a radioactive tracer to cling to the built up tau proteins in the brain that cause CTE and then scanning the brain, doctors are able to see if there are signs of CTE.

The hope from both McKee and Grady is to design therapies for people suffering from CTE to reduce its affects as there is no cure.

The segment also inspired a call to action for veterans who want to help in the study of CTE. There is a need for donated brains from veterans, so if you are interested in pledging a brain donation, visit concussionfoundation.org/pledge.

If you are interested in participating in the Mount Sinai CTE study, you can contact Dr. Grady at 212-774-1722, or by email at [email protected] or [email protected].