What Is CTE?
Concussions and other forms of trauma to the brain are still not fully understood by scientists and those throughout the medical community.
What is understood, however, is that any serious blow to the head can lead to symptoms of varying intensity, onset, and duration. Recognizing these symptoms early on can help doctors diagnose and commence treating brain injuries, improving a person’s chance for a positive outcome.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is like other brain injuries in that it exhibits specific, identifiable symptoms that are associated with its presence. Unlike a concussion or other brain injuries, though, CTE symptoms may not begin to manifest for decades after the original injury is inflicted.
With that being said, understanding CTE, its causes, and its risk factors can assist you in taking prompt action to detect and manage the condition and its effects.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and Its Symptoms
In the early 20th century, researchers coined the phrase “punch drunk syndrome” to refer to behavioral and other issues noticed in boxers who suffered repeated blows to the head over a prolonged period of time. It was not until 2002 that CTE was first diagnosed to describe the brain injuries and dementia observed in football players. Although much has been learned about CTE in the 20 years since then, there is still much that the medical community does not fully comprehend. Nevertheless, some of the symptoms that are known to be associated with CTE include the following:
- Difficulty with memory recall
- Difficulty concentrating or organizing one’s thoughts
- Inability to focus on multiple tasks at once
- Impaired judgment
These are merely some of the condition’s early symptoms. CTE is a progressive disorder, which means its symptoms will continue to increase in frequency, number, and severity over a prolonged period of time. With that said, some later CTE symptoms could include any of the following
- Aggressive behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
- Depression or anxiety
- Parkinsonism, the movements most often associated with Parkinson’s Disease
These symptoms can begin years after suffering any brain injury. Though there are ways to manage and live with them and the other effects of CTE, there is no known cure or surefire way to reverse the course of the condition. There is also no way to conclusively diagnose a person with CTE until after their death, as it is only then that their brain can be removed from the skull and studied in depth.
Repeated Blows To the Head Is Linked To CTE
One common element of individuals diagnosed with CTE is that they suffered repeated blows to the head over an extended period of time. These individual blows may not have led to a concussion or any sort of brain injury symptoms, but the repeated trauma accumulates over time, leading to the development of CTE. Therefore, any person who sustains repeated head trauma can develop CTE, a subset of individuals that includes boxers and football players, as well as the following:
- Other athletes, like hockey players and soccer players
- Construction workers, miners, and those in similar professions
- Members of the military
- First responders
More research into CTE and its causes is needed, as there are likely other factors that contribute to its development. Not everyone who suffers a blow (or multiple) to the head will develop CTE later in life.
Living With CTE and Its Symptoms
Because there is no cure for CTE or a way to reverse its symptoms, individuals who believe they may have CTE should consult their medical provider about their concerns as soon as possible. There are strategies and treatments available that can help you manage the memory loss, behavioral changes, and other effects of CTE. Support is also available for caregivers and family members whose loved ones are struggling with CTE and its symptoms.
Contact our Denver Brain Injury Law Firm Today For Help