The Washington Post has a fascinating article on the work of neuropathologist Dr Bennet Omalu (pictured right) who is researching whether American footballers are more likely to get dementia by examining their brains – after they’ve died.
The technique itself isn’t particularly controversial as the post-mortem study of brain tissue is one of the mainstays of neuroscience research.
It is difficult work, however, as it often involves asking the relatives at the point of death whether the body of their loved one can be examined for medical research, usually involving removing parts and examining them under a microscope.
Omalu thinks that the blows to the head suffered during Americfan football may increase the risk for early onset dementia and claims to have found tell-tale signs in the brain.
The idea that persistent low level head injury might raised the risk of dementia is not particularly new.
There are even some research findings suggesting that late life brain function is worse in ex-footballers and the risk for dementia may indeed by higher.
The Washington Post article is an interesting insight into an essential but difficult type of neurological research.
Link to Washington Post article ‘Brain Chaser Tackles Effects of NFL Hits’.