What is chronic traumatic encephalopathy?
Many people are familiar with the terms “concussion” and “traumatic brain injury,” but not many are familiar with the term “chronic traumatic encephalopathy.” This may be in large part due to the fact that CTE is not only rare but also, the medical field also has little information on the condition. However, what the experts do know is that CTE is a very serious form of brain degeneration that is likely the result of repeated head traumas.
CTE has a complex relationship to early-life head trauma
According to MayoClinic, though little is understood regarding chronic traumatic encephalopathy, researchers do know that the condition is not related to the immediate effects of a late-in-life concussion or head injury. Rather, researchers believe that CTE is the result of the accumulation of second impact syndrome and post-concussion syndrome that occur early in one’s life.
As of yet, researchers still do not fully understand how repeated head trauma contributes to the changes in the brain that result in CTE. This includes a lack of understanding on how many head injuries it takes to develop CTE, as well as the severity of those injuries.
That said, researchers have found evidence of CTE in the brains of individuals who engaged in high-impact sports, such as football and boxing, as well as in military personnel.
Symptoms of CTE
Unfortunately, it is rare for health care professionals to diagnose CTEs early in life. No specific symptoms have been linked to the condition, making diagnosis even more difficult. However, some symptoms were common among those with a proven CTE diagnosis. Those included depression or apathy, cognitive impairment, short-term memory loss, impulsive behavior, substance abuse, difficulty carrying out tasks, emotional instability and suicidal thoughts and behavior.