Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and Frank Gifford

On November 13, 2015 I attended a conference in Phoenix, Safeguarding Brains: The Law, Science & Ethics of the Concussive Injury Epidemic.

Dr. Jorge Barrio, professor of molecular and medical pharmacology, UCLA College of Medicine addressed the nature and diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

It was recently reported by the family of former pro football star Frank Gifford that signs of the degenerative disease CTE were found in his brain after his death.

The family was troubled regarding Gifford’s symptoms, they were concerned that he was suffering from the debilitating effects of head trauma, so they decided to have his brain examined.

CTE can be diagnosed only after death, and has been found in the brains of former football players. CTE has been linked to repeated brain trauma, it is associated with symptoms including memory loss, impaired judgment, depression and progressive dementia.

The family further stated that it found comfort in knowing that by disclosing Gifford’s condition that there might be more awareness of the issue and that Gifford’s condition should be a part of the conversation and the solution to this urgent problem.

Dr. Barrio states that the distribution pattern of abnormal brain proteins, primarily tau, observed in positron emission tomography (PET) scans, provides a fingerprint characteristic of CTE.