Concussions and brain injuries have plagued the NFL for decades, and scientists have determined that repeated concussions can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Scientists have only been able to run tests and confirm the presence of CTE after someone dies and they can test the brain, but researchers at Evanston’s NorthShore University HealthSystem started using brain scans four years ago to test whether living patients had CTE.

According to the Chicago Tribune, NorthShore surgeon Dr. Julian Bailes said scans of living patients indicated the presence of tau, a protein that builds up over damaged neurological cells. She said they still needed confirmation about CTE and couldn’t get that until after the patient died, but she confirmed that one of the former players had his brain examined and the tissue revealed he was suffering from CTE.

She said they still need more research to confirm the study, but it’s now possible they can test living players for CTE and determine whether or not they should continue playing.

“If there’s ever a treatment developed, you can test the response to it,” Bailes said. “If you can trust the scans, you can tell a football player he shouldn’t keep playing, or tell someone in the military he can’t get in the way of explosions.”

Related: Researcher backs up Aaron Hernandez’s camps claims in bombshell findings

If scientists can start testing current players for CTE, it would groundbreaking for players regarding their mental health.

Players could learn how much CTE they have and determine whether it’s worth it to continue playing. For the longest time, it seemed like it wouldn’t be a possibility, but now it could be real and it would be monumental for science and for the NFL.

(h/t Bleacher Report)

CTE has reportedly been confirmed in a living person for the first time Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Cole Frederick About the author:
Cole Frederick is from a small town in Alabama, and he graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in journalism. He loves all sports - especially football and basketball - and quotes The Office frequently.
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