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Alzheimer's-Like Plaque Seen on Brain Scans After Head Trauma

But researchers don't know if these so-called 'amyloid deposits' persist long-term

continued...

Still, the potential at-risk group is huge, he said. It includes athletes, soldiers and individuals hurt in car crashes.

The study, while small, is important, said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and a former sideline physician with the N.Y. Jets. "This type of imaging may potentially play a role in helping to understand how traumatic brain injury affects the brain and serve as a marker to evaluate such patients over the long term," he said. If treatments are developed, this type of imaging will help determine whether or not they work.

Dr. Sam Gandy, director of the Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health in New York City, cautioned that the imaging research is still in the early stage. "There is currently great interest in identifying objective biomarkers [or indicators] to document the structural and functional [consequences] of chronic and mild traumatic brain injury," Gandy said.

But PET scans have been used far less often in diagnosing sports-related brain damage than brain harm caused by traffic accidents, he noted.

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