Dr. Ann Mckee on Why We Need More Brain Donations Among Veterans in Order to Study Military CTE

We’ve learned more about CTE in ten years than we learned about Alzheimer’s in at least 20 years, but our knowledge of CTE in the military is far behind where it needs to be. Service injuries are complex but donations represent a very small percentage of those given to the brain banks. Dr. Ann McKee believes that learning from the brains of service members can have a large impact on others with military experience.

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We’re nowhere near the number of brain studies in military, especially of the OIF/OEF, the recent war, that we just don’t have as many to study. It’s like 10% of what we got in athletes, and it’s a more complicated story. So there’s a huge push for more military brains. Of course we want everyone to live healthy, long lives. That’s not the point. But if the tragedy happens, if they do lose their lives, can we study the brain so we can give some hope and optimism to the current military personnel, the people that are at risk for these disorders so we know more. Our knowledge has expanded exponentially because of our very successful brain bank. Learning the mechanisms, the underlying pathologies of the disease has just given us tremendous insights. I actually think that we’ve learned more CTE in ten years than we learned about Alzheimer’s in at least 20 years. I mean it’s been a very rapid accumulation of knowledge, and that been largely because of the brain bank series. We just aren’t at that level with military. The word isn’t out. We need to study those military brains. And by donating your brain to this science, you are contributing to the future health of other soldiers and military personnel. There’ll never be a time where we’re not in conflict or at war. There’ll never be a time when we don’t have a military. This will be a constant in our lives. But if we can know more and keep them safe, that’ll be a tremendous advance. This video was produced by BrainLine thanks to generous support from the Infinite Hero Foundation.
Posted on BrainLine January 11, 2019.

About the author: Ann McKee, MD

Ann McKee, MD is the chief neuropathologist for the Framingham Heart Study and the Boston University-based Centenarian Study. She is also the chief neuropathologist for the Boston-based Veterans Administration Medical Centers and for the Sports Legacy Institute.

Ann McKee

This video was produced by BrainLine thanks to generous support from the Infinite Hero Foundation.