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Julia Manning | 515-201-7199 |

Former NFL star Henry Childs had newly discovered subtype of CTE when he died

 1 in 6 people with high-stage CTE found to have distinct disease pattern that may lower dementia risk but increase behavioral problems

(Boston) – The widow of New Orleans Saints legend Henry Childs is announcing today that Boston University CTE Center researchers diagnosed Childs with a newly identified form of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) called cortical-sparing CTE (CSCTE). Childs passed away in 2016 at age 65 after a heart attack. This is the first time Cyndy Childs has been public with her late husband’s diagnosis.
CTE is a neurodegenerative disease defined by abnormal tau protein accumulating in a particular pattern in specific regions of the brain. Studies to date suggest CTE begins in the outermost layer of the frontal lobe, the neocortex, where it then spreads to connected brain regions. Later, in high-stage disease, there is involvement of deeper regions of the brain, like the medial temporal lobe and brainstem.
In a new study from the BU CTE Center published Monday, researchers found one in six individuals with high-stage CTE had surprisingly low levels of tau pathology in their neocortex. CSCTE instead showed a higher concentration of tau pathology in the medial temporal lobe and brainstem regions. The individuals with CSCTE, like Childs, were less likely to have dementia and had less severe cognitive impairment compared to those with typical CTE, but they did tend to have earlier onset of behavioral and movement symptoms.
“Henry was a kind, gregarious man with such a big personality,” said Cyndy Childs. “It was very hard to watch him become more short-tempered, emotional, and socially withdrawn. I know he would have been proud to contribute to research and I’m hopeful by sharing his diagnosis, the science will continue to advance to help others.”
Childs is regarded as one of the best tight ends in Saints history, playing seven of his 11 NFL seasons there, including in 1979, when he was selected to the Pro Bowl. He was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 1994.
Researchers believe further studies are needed to confirm the existence of CSCTE and to understand its clinical implications, but they believe this finding could have important implications for the diagnosis and treatment of CTE.
"If CSCTE is confirmed to be a distinct subtype of CTE, it may be necessary to develop new diagnostic tools and treatment approaches that are specifically tailored to this form of the disease," said corresponding author Thor Stein, MD, PhD, a neuropathologist at VA Boston and Bedford Healthcare Systems and associate professor of pathology & laboratory medicine at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine. “This could help us understand why people with CTE can have different symptoms and, ultimately, lead to improved outcomes."
You can read the full study online in the journal Acta Neuropathologica.


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