A brain injury researcher claims to have a discovered similar abnormal protein–called “tau”–in a deceased Vietnam veteran’s brain that he previously observed in the brains of professional football players. Stars & Stripes reports that this is “a potentially groundbreaking finding that suggests combat troops who suffer head trauma might be susceptible to a degenerative brain disease” later in life.

Dr. Bennet Omalu, an expert in forensic neuropathology and the chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, Calif., said the 61-year-old Army veteran had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as psychotic behavior, much of which had been attributed to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

But the autopsy showed something else: an abnormal buildup of harmful proteins in the vet’s brain, the same proteins linked to repetitive concussions in boxers, and now football players.

“This is a sentinel case,” Omalu said. “The brain findings in this deceased Army veteran are similar to the brain findings in the retired contact-sport athletes. Now, we need to look at more brains.”

The case suggests that some veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychological disorder, may actually have brain disease caused by concussions, he said.

Further researcher in this area could lead to earlier diagnoses of brain function problems, and eventually to the development of drugs that can slow the deterioration process. According to Dr. Omalu, growing scientific evidence indicates that repeated concussions or persistent head trauma can contribute to the build up of tau in the brain.

If you believe that you (or a family member regardless of their age) have sustained a traumatic brain injury, it is important to hire an experienced Virginia brain injury attorney. The Virginia brain injury lawyers at The Law Offices of Richard J. Serpe, P.C. have the experience needed, and the requisite contacts with the best doctors in the area, to ensure you and your loved ones have the best representation possible. Call Toll Free 877-544–5323 for a no-obligation consultation.


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