Researchers report first pre-death CTE diagnosis

DALLAS- Former Minnesota Viking linebacker Fred McNeill died two years ago, but a research study he participated in before he passed could literally save lives.

"Up until just recently, the only way we could diagnose CTE was in the event of someone's death," said Dr. Sally Fryer Dietz, founder of Integrative Concussion Therapy.

Now, that's all changed.

New developments coming from a study of McNeill's brain are offering medical experts the possibility of diagnosing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, known as CTE, before someone passes away.

"If the scan can reliably pick up these tau proteins and can be associated with those symptoms, then that kind of gives us an opportunity to start looking at, what we can do then to help support the brain," Dietz said.

Researchers already knew there was a connection between multiple concussions and the degenerative disease, making sports like football and soccer high risk.

But experts are still working to find out if there are other factors at play.

"With every study that comes out, it makes us much more aware of how can we support people better going forward," Dietz said.