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NCH provides new hope to those suffering from brain injuries

Monday, February 13, 2017

With greater awareness of football’s long-term effects on players’ health, many athletes are searching for ways to treat their pain and prevent the onset of additional symptoms.

Shaun O'Leary, M.D., Ph.D. talks with a patient.

Longtime sportscaster and former Chicago Bear Mike Adamle is the latest athlete to acknowledge that the fame and glory he received on the football field came with a price – a disease that could cost him his life.

Adamle recently revealed that he has post-traumatic epilepsy, dementia and the symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) after years of playing football at Northwestern University and in the NFL. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease that afflicts the brain of people who have suffered repeated concussions and traumatic brain injuries, such as athletes who take part in contact sports.

While Adamle was not treated at Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH), local athletes can find answers about their brain injuries at NCH’s Neuroscience Center, which recently became the first hospital in the Midwest to use new technology that helps show how the brain is functioning.

NCH is working with CereScan, a brain imaging and diagnostics company in Colorado, to use high-tech imaging that measures blood flow in up to 160 regions of the brain. Measuring blood flow can reveal how cells are working in the brain.

NCH uses CereScan's patented process, qSPECT imaging, which measures blood flow to show how brain cells are functioning. The amount of blood flow is displayed on a color spectrum.

NCH uses CereScan's patented process, qSPECT imaging, which measures blood flow to show how brain cells are functioning. The amount of blood flow is displayed on a color spectrum.

A standard hospital SPECT image enables doctors to analyze the function of internal organs, including brain injuries, but does not measure blood flow.

A standard hospital SPECT image enables doctors to analyze the function of internal organs, including brain injuries, but does not measure blood flow.

The technology, along with clinical assessments, can offer a more complete picture of a patient’s brain function than structured images, such as MRIs and CT scans, says NCH neurosurgeon Shaun O’Leary, M.D., Ph.D.

“This technology improves our ability to diagnose patients with brain injuries. With a more precise diagnosis, there is a more precise treatment,” Dr. O’Leary says. “Finding an answer for those fighting brain injuries is our top priority.”

Using CereScan imaging, NCH’s Neuroscience Center can provide patients with answers about brain injuries. The NCH Neuroscience Center specializes in treating complex neurological conditions affecting the brain, nerves and spinal cord.

To make an appointment with Dr. O’Leary, call 1-844-9-NCH-BRAIN.

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