UVA Health researcher helps service members prevent CTE through NATO group

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Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 3:08 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A UVA Health researcher is now part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) group of experts that will work to create guidelines to reduce the risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in military personnel.

Dr. James Stone is an associate professor and the vice chair of research for the Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging. He says service members are at high risk of developing CTE because of their repeated exposure to blasts and impacts overtime.

“This guidance is meant to inform the overall exposure conditions, the acceptable exposure conditions, for military personnel that are going to be in situations where they may be exposed to repetitive blasts, so they may sustain repetitive impacts,” Stone said.

There are currently no recognized treatments for CTE, which is why Stone says it’s critical to provide this guidance now before it’s too late.

“What was recognized with chronic traumatic encephalopathy is that this is a long term what we call a degenerative neurodegenerative condition that is specifically linked to an earlier exposure to repeated TBIs [traumatic brain injuries],” Stone said. “What we’ve learned over the last 10 to 15 years is that just the exposure to repeated blasts, separate from repeated impacts are some of the conditions that athletes are exposed, can cause neurological changes over time.”

The NATO group of experts will provide new guidelines by the end of 2023.

“It’s very important for the international community to have a better understanding of what the acceptable conditions are where an individual can be exposed to some level of blast or some level of impact without developing a long term condition that may have a significant impact on the rest of their life,” Stone said.

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