October’s Neuropathology Update

MRI scans & pregnancy and Lewy Body Disease is new threat to contact sports players…

Pregnancy & MRI Scans: Behind the Headlines

In our first update we highlighted one brain scientist’s response to the misleading headlines in the American media concerning the correlation between CTE and American Football. News today is delivered to us through an alarming number of different avenues and, as such, it can often be difficult to make sense of what can often be an alarming amount of conflicting information. Where once the old adage used to go: ‘Don’t trust everything you read in the papers’, you’re better off lopping off the end of that to read simply: ‘Don’t trust everything you read.’ Whilst many are wise enough to take news from tabloid sources with a pinch of salt, other sources have more trust and can often be considered as gospel by certain readers.

The NHS has been running a series of blogs under the banner ‘Behind the Headlines’ in a bid to fact check the news and (hopefully) dissuade readers from making drastic decisions in relation to their health as a result of one persuasive article. We’ve done a little rooting around in their archives and discovered a particularly interesting piece from December 2016 concerning this headline: “Detailed MRI scans should be offered to some women in pregnancy to help spot brain defects in the developing baby, say researchers.” Not only is this headline vague but it automatically raised questions for the reader, it’s essentially ‘clickbait’ and could lead to a reader simply taking away the headline without reading any further. With the cost of a private MRI scan ranging from £300 to up to £800, there’s clearly money to be made here for those in the business – but the health implications are what we should be worried.

Click through here for the full story on the NHS site.

Lewy Body Disease is another brain disease threatening contact sports players

A new study published by researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine has revealed a further potential causal link between playing contact supports (such as hockey and football) and the development of Lewy Body Disease. The paper, published in the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, suggests that contact sports players have an increased risk of developing the degenerative condition which can lead to Parkinson’s disease. Although CTE has attracted a great deal of headlines in recent years, the study’s results have shown that Lewy Body Disease can be developed independently, as a result of repetitive head impacts associated with contact sports.

The sample group assessed results from 694 brains in total with 269 of those belonging to former athletes. Out of this athlete group 217 were found to have developed CTE, whereas 54 (20.2%) were diagnosed with Lewy Body Disease. Lewy Body Disease is closely linked with dementia and is often confused with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s due to its similarities in presentation which include fluctuations in alertness, hallucinations, muscle stiffness and loss of memory. The study has highlighted a possible causality between CTE patients’ loss of motor functions which has previously been unexplained, in addition to revealing that those that do not develop CTE are more likely to go on to develop Lewy Body Disease.

See the full article here.