Could CTE Be Diagnosed in People Before Death?

Now that CTE is finally coming out--chronic traumatic encephalopathy-- Dr. Bennet Omalu, his studies on Mike Webster's brain, on Ray Waters-- all of these guys that died horrible deaths. Bennet and I--I meet with Bennet regularly now, a great guy-- and so we've been meeting for the last couple of years. He has flat out talked to--I've had a number of interviews like this, and they've interviewed Bennet--and he's flat out told them that George shows many, many symptoms already of CTE. I have at times poor judgment, anger management issues, the insomnia where you don't sleep for days at a time. I mean, I can go on and on and on. Now, the only way to ever diagnose it is to do--they'll do an autopsy and they'd find a tau protein buildup in the brain. Well, this is what I presented to Bennet-- I told him, "Has anyone ever been able to test it in anyone living?" and he said, "No." I said, "Well, what about this. What if I sign a waiver, and the next time I have a brain surgery, I'll let you or someone else take a small sample out--they have to go in anyway-- and test and then maybe the next time I have a shunt surgery, we test it to see are my tau protein levels rising. He said, "George, that would be unbelievable." So, we're looking at doing that. Now, Bennet has his own brain bank. He's the one that really discovered all this stuff. I have my brain donated to his. I said, "Have at it. When I'm done with it, have at it." But, and it's unfortunate you have to wait for guys to die to be able to tell you, "Oh, yeah. Hey, you have this disease that's caused by your industry." But like I said, what if they could come up with a test for it. And like Bennet said, "Well, what if we could come up with something as simple as a vaccine that could eliminate the tau protein buildups."

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy can only be tested post-mortem, but George Visger, who suffers from hydrocephalus, has offered his brain for testing next time he needs brain surgery.

See more videos with George Visger.

George Visger

A defensive lineman on the San Francisco 49ers’ first Super Bowl champions in 1981-82, George Visger has lived with a shunt in his brain ever since — a consequence of the cumulative concussions. He is now a prominent figure in the fight for fair treatment of retired NFL players.

Posted on BrainLine January 8, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine, and Dan Edblom.

Comments (1)

My two sons played Little League football in high school football they both have had problems I've seen them get hit in the head many many times and still they kept them in the game. They diagnosed him with schizophrenia but I don't find it a coincidence that both of them have it. Is there tests to show they have CTE