DETECT (Diagnosing and Evaluating Traumatic Encephalopathy Using Clinical Tests)

This study is the first research project on CTE ever funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with support from the National Institute of Neurologic Diseases and Stroke (NINDS), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).  The ultimate goal of this study is to develop methods of diagnosing CTE during life through the use of a variety of tests, including MRI scans (such as diffusion tensor imaging), MRS scans (also known as a “virtual biopsy”), blood tests, and measures of proteins in spinal fluid.  Participants will also undergo neurological, psychiatric, and cognitive assessments, as well as genetic testing.  The study will include 150 former NFL players (ages 40-69) and 50 same-age “control” athletes who played non-contact sports.  Recruitment started in November 2011.  For more information or if you are interested in participating please contact Nate Fritts, Research Assistant at

As a former NFL player, you may be eligible to participate if you:

  • Are 40-69 years old
  • Played a minimum of 2 years in the NFL at one of the following positions:
    • Offensive Lineman
    • Defensive Lineman
    • Linebacker
    • Defensive Back
    • Running Back/Wide Receiver

As a former non-contact sport athlete, you may be eligible to participate if you:

  • Are 40-69 years old
  • Have no history of brain trauma
  • Played a minimum of 2 years of college or higher level athletics in one of the following sports:
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Archery
    • Track & Field
    • Weightlifting
    • Rowing
    • Fencing
    • Badminton
    • Cycling
    • Curling
    • Other non-contact sports
  • Have no history of participation in contact sports (i.e. football, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, etc.)

Participation involves two days in Boston (all travel expenses paid for by the study) for a variety of tests, including: MRI scans; lumbar puncture; blood draw; EEG; and neurological, cognitive, and mood exams.

Travel for the DETECT study is being sponsored in part by JetBlue and the NFL Players Association.