Interested Study Participants
Actively Recruiting Clinical Research StudiesClinical Studies
The Boston University/Boston Medical Center Memory and Aging ClinicBU/BMC MAC
Brain Donation RegistryBU CTE Page Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) Page
Clinical Care ResourcesLearn More
FAQ for Interested Study Participants
Can you refer me to a doctor?
Unfortunately, we are a research center, and do not provide continuing medical care. We do not maintain a comprehensive list of doctors across the country who are familiar with brain injury and CTE. However our collaborators at the Concussion Legacy Foundation can assist if you reach out to their HelpLine. They have staff dedicated to connecting individuals with medical and community resources specific to brain injury and CTE.
Can I be evaluated at the BU CTE Center?
The BU CTE Center is a research group. At this point in time we do not offer continuing clinical care. The best first step, if you are seeking clinical evaluation, is to speak to your primary care physician. For more information on physicians in your area who work with those suffering from brain trauma, please use the Concussion Clinics search tool. Many of our clinical research studies include evaluations. However, these are not intended to replace routine or specialized medical care. Please review our actively recruiting studies and email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating in our research.
Do I have to be a high level amateur or professional athlete to participate in your research?
No. The CTE Center welcomes male and female athletes of all sports and levels to participate in our research. Although some studies are restricted to specific sports and levels, other studies are open to anyone with a history of participation in organized sports or military service.
If I have the symptoms of CTE, do I have the disease itself?
Just because you have some or many of the symptoms of CTE does not necessarily mean that you have the disease itself. There are many possible causes of these types of symptoms. If you are having difficulties, you should speak with your primary care or specialist physician. Many of the symptoms can be successfully treated.
How is CTE diagnosed?
At this time, CTE can only be diagnosed after death by postmortem neuropathological analysis. Right now there is no known way to use MRI, CT, PET, SPECT, or other brain imaging methods to definitively diagnose CTE. In addition, there are no known blood or spinal fluid tests for CTE. The CTE Center is actively conducting research aimed at learning how to diagnose CTE during life. Find out more about our research here.
I recently had a concussion, and I am suffering from a number of the symptoms listed above. Do I have CTE?
The symptoms of CTE generally do not present until years or decades after the brain trauma occurred or after one stops actively playing contact sports. While most concussion symptoms resolve within a few weeks, the symptoms can last for months or, in severe cases, even years. When this occurs, it is called post-concussion syndrome (PCS). Post-concussion syndrome is different than CTE, and the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome usually resolve years or decades before the onset of CTE symptoms. If you believe you are suffering from either an acute concussion or post-concussion syndrome, contact your physician. For more information on concussions, including support groups for PCS patients and caregivers, visit the Concussion Legacy Foundation’s Concussion Resources. For more information on physicians in your area who work with those suffering from brain trauma, please use the Concussion Clinics search tool.
How do you get CTE? Can I get CTE from one concussion/hit to the head?
We believe CTE is caused by repetitive brain trauma. This trauma includes both concussions that cause symptoms and non-concussive hits to the head that cause no symptoms. At this time the number or type of hits to the head needed to trigger degenerative changes of the brain is unknown. In addition, it is likely that other factors, such as genetics, may play a role in the development of CTE, as not everyone with a history of repeated brain trauma develops this disease. However, these other factors are not yet understood. Please review our significant research findings to learn more.
What is a concussion?
A concussion has occurred any time you have had a blow to the head that caused you to have symptoms for any amount of time. You do NOT need to have lost consciousness to have a concussion. These symptoms include blurred or double vision, seeing stars, sensitivity to light or noise, headache, dizziness or balance problems, nausea, vomiting, trouble sleeping, fatigue, confusion, difficulty remembering, difficulty concentrating, or loss of consciousness. A concussion has also occurred when a person gets a “ding” or gets their “bell rung.”
What are the symptoms of CTE?
The symptoms of CTE include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety, suicidality, parkinsonism, and, eventually, progressive dementia. These symptoms often begin years or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. Please review our significant research findings to learn more.
Can CTE be cured? What can I do if I think I have CTE?
Unfortunately, at this time there is no cure for CTE. However, the CTE Center is currently conducting ongoing clinical research aimed at discovering how CTE develops and progresses, risk factors for the development of the disease, and how to diagnose the disease during life. The symptoms of CTE, such as depression and anxiety, can be treated individually. If you believe you or a loved one may have CTE, please read through the Living with CTE page and talk with your physician. For more information on physicians in your area who work with those suffering from brain trauma, please use the Concussion Clinics search tool. Additionally, the Concussion Legacy Foundation hosts support groups for those with suspected CTE.
What can I do to help/how do I become involved with research?
Thank you for your interest in helping with our research. If you would like to pledge to donate your brain, please sign up using this link. We encourage individuals, with and without head trauma, to sign up. Being a brain donor is similar to being an organ donor, and the procedure is done in such a way that the donor may have an open casket if desired. BU CTE Center personnel understand that this is a difficult time for the family of the donor, and they work hard to make the donation process as easy as possible for the family. For more information visit our FAQ on brain donation. If you would like to participate in clinical research, please review our recruiting studies and reach out to the appropriate study coordinator. If you would like to make a donation, including in memoriam, we are grateful for your generosity. Our research is funded through grants and generous gifts.