Researchers published, what they say is the first case of a living person identified with the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The discovery was first made in 2012 on Fred McNeill who played football for 22 years, 12 in the NFL, as a linebacker. Years after Fred retired from football, CTE symptoms started piling up. Depression, Memory loss nd eventually, deterioration in motor skills. He died at 63.
Yet McNeill’s case is different than the many other NFL players linked to CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Up until McNeill, every player associated with CTE had the disorder diagnosed only after his death, when the athletes’ brains could be examined for the presence of a buildup of tau, a protein associated with the disease. In McNeill’s case, however, researchers were able to detect presence of the protein in the former linebacker’s brain while he was still alive. Researchers used an experimental brain scan that can trace a signature protein of CTE called tau. The case study was published in the journal Neurosurgery.