Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

monitors showing brain scan results
January 27, 2023 | Categories: Uncategorized ,

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is widely known as a progressive degenerative disease brought about by blows to the head. CTE was originally called “punch drunk” (given to prizefighters in the ring), and “dementia boxerae” (given to boxers). The name was changed in 2010 to “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” to reflect the broader range of causes of the disease.

CTE affects both athletes and individuals who have gone through head trauma, military combat, falls, and car accidents. Notably, there are three stages which are: mild, moderate, and severe. Manifestations of CTE can be really difficult to detect and diagnose. The mild stage may only be evident in extreme cases like footballers with numerous traumas.

CTE is a progressive illness and the symptoms escalate with time, especially when the brain’s ability to repair itself is compromised. Concussion symptoms may also vary from person to person, as some people are more susceptible than others to concussion-related brain damage. Researchers now believe that at least one-third of retired NFL players will develop CTE as well as a growing number of former military veterans.

What exactly is a concussion?

A concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury, happens when the head is shaken back and forth. Although the effects of the concussion may disappear with time, it takes hours for the brain to recover. Also, repeated concussions can cause CTE.

How many concussions does it take to cause CTE?

This is not certain, but researchers believe that a person who suffers numerous concussions at a young age may have an increased chance of developing CTE as compared to someone who gets one concussion later in life. Other factors, such as genetics and gender, may also affect whether or not you develop CTE following repeated concussions. Generally, individuals who engage in contact sports, and athletes in these sports are at a very high risk of contracting this disease.

What are the symptoms of CTE?

Punch-drunk syndrome – The first symptoms of CTE may look like those of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, but it can also include loss of memory, confusion, anxiety, and depression. As the disease advances, people with CTE may have more intense memory problems and character changes. They may be easily provoked or get suicidal. In some cases, this can lead to aggression or violence. Researchers do not know exactly how many years it takes for these symptoms to develop after repeated concussions. But in one study of NFL players who died at an average age of 50, researchers found evidence of CTE in about 80% of them.

Concussion – The most common symptom of CTE is a headache or a feeling of prolonged pressure on the head. In addition, people with the disease may go through mood changes, which can include depression, anxiety, and irritability.

Neurological problems – People with CTE can encounter sleeping crises, lack of coordination, and impaired speech. It is not evident whether or not these symptoms are caused by the disease itself or by the medications that people with CTE often take to treat their symptoms.

How many football players have this?

According to research, CTE may be found in one in three former NFL players. This is because all of the brains donated to a brain bank at Boston University that studies CTE came from former NFL players, of which none were women. Nevertheless, many scientists believe that there is a lot we can do to reduce the risks of head injuries now and that there is no reason not to play sports or pursue other activities as long as you are protected.

Although there is no known cure for CTE or any known way to prevent it, there are certain precautions that can be performed to help with recovery, such as retiring at a young age. CTE has been found in professional athletes who have suffered multiple concussions or head injuries: football league players like Andre Waters, hockey players like Derek Boogard, and football players like Junior Seau or Dave Duerson.

How to create awareness about CTE

One of the ways to create awareness about CTE is by sharing your story. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, we can help disseminate the word by creating blog posts with links that familiarize people about CTE, also encouraging them to donate money for research. Examples of individuals who have shared their stories can be found here. Another way to spread the word is to start a campaign. You can create awareness by telling people about it through tweets, Facebook posts, emails, or even by simply sharing information on your blogs. If you are easily influenced, you can get others to do the same through their friends’ social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Apart from these, you can also create awareness by holding seminars and workshops, conferences and lectures that talk about the dangerous effects of CTE as well as how it can be detected early in order to prevent long-term damage or death that may result due to CTE. You can create awareness about CTE by offering educational materials to high school students as well as providing useful information to parents/guardians on how they can commence conversations with their children about CTE.

Lastly, another way to create awareness is by bringing on educated speakers to speak about CTE at conferences and meetings. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, this type of event can assist in spreading the word about CTE in an engaging manner.

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