News FocusNeuropathology

A Battle No Soldier Wants to Fight

Science  29 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6042, pp. 517-518
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6042.517

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Summary

Memory problems are a common symptom of traumatic brain injury, which is frequently suffered by soldiers exposed to blasts from roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices. Head injuries are known to be a risk factor for Alzheimer's and other types of dementia. Evidence has also been emerging that American football players and other athletes in contact sports can develop a type of dementia called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) after suffering multiple head injuries on the field. Whether military troops might be at risk for Alzheimer's, CTE, or other dementia is still very much an open question, but neuroimaging studies have given researchers even greater cause for concern. The evidence so far is only suggestive, but it's coming from several directions.