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
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
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 they 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 crisis, 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 allof 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.