What is chronic traumatic encephalopathy?

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2024 | Sports Injuries |

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative brain condition.

Individuals who have an increased risk of brain injury should understand this condition. It is helpful for them to be able to recognize when they might need to take steps to protect their health.

Development of CTE

Researchers link the development of CTE to the repeated trauma that occurs in contact sports, such as football, boxing and hockey. It also has links to other activities that involve frequent blows to the head, like military combat.

Each time the head experiences a significant impact, there is a risk of damaging the brain tissue. It also triggers a cascade of events that can lead to the formation of tau protein tangles. Over time, these tangles can spread throughout the brain and disrupt normal brain function, leading to the symptoms associated with CTE.

Symptoms of CTE

The symptoms of CTE can vary widely from person to person and may not become apparent until years or even decades after the head injuries occur. Early symptoms may include headaches, dizziness and difficulty concentrating. More advanced stages of the disease can manifest as memory loss, confusion, aggression and depression. In some cases, individuals with CTE may also experience problems with motor function, such as tremors or difficulty walking.

Treatment for CTE

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for CTE and only limited treatment options. Prevention is the best option for combatting CTE. Individuals engaging in activities where brain injuries are common should wear appropriate protective gear, practice good technique to minimize head impacts and seek medical attention for all head injuries.

Diagnosis of CTE can only occur posthumously through brain tissue analysis. However, research into the condition is ongoing, and there is growing awareness of the risks associated with repetitive head trauma.