Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy from Playing Football
Those who play football in high school, college or on a professional team can be subjected to many types of injuries — from sprains to broken bones to concussions. However, there is new evidence surrounding a condition that results when people, football players in particular, receive multiple concussions. It’s called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also referred to as CTE.
What Is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)?
In medical terms, CTE is a disease or disorder of the brain that causes progressive degeneration. It starts out with a few symptoms and progressively gets worse.
A firm diagnosis of CTE can currently only be made postmortem (after the patient dies) for individuals with a history of multiple concussions and head injuries.
Who Can Get Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)?
Anyone who suffers repeated blows to the head and concussions can develop CTE. However, athletes most commonly develop the disease. The sports that have the most common instances of chronic traumatic encephalopathy are:
- Football – often due to the need to tackle and be tackled.
- Ice Hockey – often due to players colliding on the ice against each other, wall, barricade and the goal.
- Professional wrestling – it may not be “real,” but the injuries wrestlers can sustain – especially when being dropped on their head or being struck by an object – can lead to CTE.
- Boxing – boxers often aim for their opponent’s heads, and each “knock out” can be the result of a concussion.
- MMA/UFC fighting – Similar to boxing, these fighters use their fists, elbows, knees and feet to strike each other, including strikes to the head.
Soldiers (or disabled veterans) who have been exposed to a blast or bomb can also suffer multiple concussions.
What Are The Symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)?
Given the new nature of the condition, symptoms can vary. They often include characteristic degeneration of brain tissue and the accumulation of tau protein — a condition that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Individuals with chronic traumatic encephalopathy may show symptoms of general dementia, including memory loss, aggression, confusion, depression, headaches, poor judgment, impeded speech, tremors, deafness and vertigo. These symptoms all appear years or decades after the trauma. CTE can also lead to hormonal imbalances, emotional disturbance, and mood instability. Thus, a person suffering from CTE may be treated for several different physical and mental conditions at the same time, all resulting from repeated concussions.
How Do I Know if I Have Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)?
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive test to diagnose CTE, but there is a developing consensus that athletes who are exposed to this type of head trauma can develop the condition. In fact, there’s even a Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy that is conducting ongoing research.
Ritacco Disability Law
If you or someone you know has played football or another sport and is showing signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, contact the law office of Lisa M. Ritacco for a free consultation.