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What you should know about chronic traumatic encephalopathy

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a very serious condition that has been known to occur after repeated brain injuries. While it is mostly associate with professional athletes, many people in Pittsburgh can be at risk of developing this condition depending on the circumstances. Accordingly, it’s important to understand how it develops, as well as the associated symptoms.

As stated by CNN, although CTE is brought about by repeated concussions, the most damaging aspect of the disorder is the buildup of a protein called tau. This is due to the brain being repeatedly jostled within the skull, which can lead to further degeneration over time. This is true even if the person afflicted with CTE experiences no more concussive episodes. Additionally, there is no cure for CTE and no real method of diagnosis. The condition can only be identified after death during the subsequent autopsy.

Certain groups are more prone to developing CTE than others, and these groups tend to be involved in activities where significant blows to the head are a common occurrence. As previously mentioned, professional athletes (including football players and boxers) suffer from CTE in increased rates, as do military veterans. It’s difficult to determine how many people actually suffer from CTE since there is no real method of detection, but some research points to 96 percent of former NFL players being afflicted with the disease.

While detection is not possible, there are certain symptoms associated CTE. The Mayo Clinic lists some of these common symptoms, including depression and suicidal ideation. Sufferers of CTE may also have substance abuse problems, as well as increased anger and agitation. Trouble with the senses (such as vision difficulties or a diminished sense of smell) can also occur. 

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