Unfortunately, not much is understood still about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). However, we do know that it has been linked to repeated head trauma or head injury, such as that experienced in certain sports or military service. But could CTE also result from other avenues, such as stunt work? According to Safety and Health Magazine, Professor Jeff Russell, alongside a research team from Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center, are working to make this determination.
An estimated 80% of stunt workers have experienced at least one instance (if not more) of serious head trauma during their work. As a result, researchers wonder whether stunt work could correlate with CTE and neurodegeneration. Typically, CTE is not diagnosed until after death; a post-mortem examination is able to provide more insight. However, through this study, the researchers hope to find a way to diagnose this condition in performers who are still living. They believe that this could not only improve quality-of-life, but potentially find an avenue for treatment.
To begin their study, though, researchers will first examine and analyze donated brains from deceased individuals. Through this analysis, they will search for any signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and will move forward from there. Whether or not the research team will be able to delineate ways to treat or better prevent chronic traumatic encephalopathy is yet to be seen. However, finding an avenue for living treatment could have wide-ranging implications in many different fields.
You can learn more about the stunt profession or being a stunt performer in this Backstage article from Gregg Sargeant.
What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)?
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative condition which worsens (progresses) over time. Some signs or characteristics associated with CTE can include progressive dementia, memory loss, poor balance and motor skills, changes in mood, behavior, and personality, and difficulty with organizing thoughts. Learn more about chronic traumatic encephalopathy through this helpful FAQ section from Boston University.