Study links vets to brain disease seen in athletes

LAURAN NEERGAARD AP Medical Writer Published:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A small study raises more concern about the long-term consequences of the traumatic brain injuries suffered by thousands of soldiers.

The research suggests they may be at risk of developing the same kind of degenerative brain disease as some retired football players who suffered years of blows to the head.

Researchers at Boston University did autopsies of four young veterans and found the earliest signs of what's called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. It's a slow-forming disease that apparently starts with the abnormal buildup of a protein in parts of the brain, just what the study found.

Specialists caution that more research is needed to understand who's at risk for the disease, and what role the number and severity of head injuries plays.