Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a brain condition that is caused by repeated blows to the head or receiving many concussions. The Boston University CTE Center has heavily researched this disease and has released a large amount of information about the details of the condition. Due to the nature of how this condition is received, it is common in athletes who play contact sports like football, hockey and boxing and is also found in military veterans. CTE has been a big point of discussion and problem, especially in the NFL. According to Boston University CTE Center, researchers found CTE in 99% of former NFL players in a 2017 study.
How is CTE fatal?
Even though there are no cures for CTE itself, many of the individual symptoms that CTE causes can be treated. The disease causes degeneration of brain tissue which can not be reversed.
What does CTE cause?
According to Boston University's CTE Research Center, repeated trauma to the brain causes degeneration of brain tissue. This includes an increased amount of tau, which is an abnormal protein. These changes aren't rapid, but they do happen over time after trauma to the brain. This degeneration is parallel with common CTE symptoms, which include aggression, depression, increased confusion, loss of memory and parkinsonism (symptoms found in Parkinson's disease.)
What are the most common symptoms of CTE?
CTE begins gradually from many blows to the head over time or having a repeated concussion diagnosis. Some of the most common symptoms include memory loss, changes in mood, increased confusion, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, parkinsonism, aggression and having a hard time thinking. If an individual receives an injury to the head, it does not mean that they will go on to develop CTE, but evidence does suggest that repeated injuries do increase a persons risk to develop the condition. CTE is found a lot in athletes who play high contact sports.
Is CTE reversible?
CTE is not reversible, although some symptoms such as depression and anxiety that are developed from the condition can be treated on their own. The condition is still being highly researched because there is no known cure. It is difficult to diagnose because the only way for it to be truly diagnosed is through brain tissue analysis where doctors look for signs of brain tissue degeneration, which is not possible to do until after death. Although it is not possible to see whether someone has CTE through MRI's, CT or any other brain scans, it is usually suspected by the symptoms that an individual shows and their history of head injury.