By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – A surprising new study out of Boston University about the cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE.

Scientists studied mice models as well as the brains of four teenage athletes and found that repetitive hits to the head, even if they don’t cause symptoms of a concussion, can lead to significant brain damage over time.

Over recent years, the focus has been specifically on concussions, head injuries that lead to symptoms like headache, confusion dizziness, but scientists at BU say that repetitive hits that don’t meet the criteria of concussion can damage blood vessels.

Those blood vessels can become leaky which leads to the cascade of changes in the brain that cause CTE.

Head injuries can occur in a variety of sports including football, hockey, mixed martial arts, and soccer, but experts caution that other victims of abuse or violence are at risk as well.

The changes in the brain can be seen even in the teenage years, so researchers say, as a society, we need to do what we can to limit head trauma, in general, especially to young people with brains that are still developing.

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