Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy - A Danger for Many Athletes

Contact is a part of most sports. Sometimes, that contact is rather violent and jolting, and the player can't simply just "walk it off" as they've been told to do by coaches for decades. Being hit too hard and too often can take a serious toll on the body, and it can be particularly damaging to the brain.

We've known that boxers could face serious health problems like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), but it may not be so obvious that quite a few other athletes are in danger as well, particularly football players and others who are playing contact sports. CTE is a serious condition.

What is CTE?

CTE is the term used to describe the degeneration of brain function in those suffering from repeated head injuries and concussions. Even after the traditional symptoms of the concussion go away, the new symptoms of CTE can arrive. These can show up a few months or even years later. In most cases, the symptoms show up very slowly, and the individual might not even realize there is a problem right away.

Because the symptoms are similar to concussions, some patients might feel that their concussion symptoms are returning. However, unlike a regular concussion, these symptoms will not simply fade. They typically worsen, especially when they are not treated appropriately.

Some initial signs of CTE include:

  • Having trouble concentrating or trouble with their memory.
  • Headaches
  • Bouts of confusion or dizziness
  • Difficulty to control emotions (becoming aggressive & violent)

The person suffering from CTE may display erratic behavior, and the aggression can become worse. It can lead to a type of dementia, and have many symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease. They have trouble with speech and with walking. These symptoms are unstoppable, and they often continue to progress.

Carefully Diagnosing CTE

From a clinical perspective, it is actually difficult to diagnose CTE since a CT scan doesn't show abnormalities or bleeding on the brain, necessarily. It behaves very similarly to other diseases that affect the brain. In fact, one of the only reliable ways to confirm CTE is during an autopsy. Many who have CTE become more liable to pass away due to suicide, drug overdose, or alcohol abuse. Deaths of prominent football players, such as Junior Seau, have shown what a real danger CTE is for players of contact sports.

Diagnosis is difficult, and there is no way to cure someone of CTE. The only hope right now is supportive treatments to help minimize symptoms. Prevention is the best cure. The NFL is finally making changes to helmet styles and to the rules to cut back on the instances of head injuries suffered by players. Younger athletes and youth sports organizations are also taking the prevention of head injuries more seriously than they have in the past.

Discuss a CTE case with a Sports Neurology expert!

Due to the difficulty of diagnosing CTE, it is always best to seek the advice of a neurologist when dealing with a legal matter. As a board certified neurologist and experienced expert witness, I, Dr. Williams, am the medical professional you need on your side.

Find out how I can be a true asset to your team by contacting me today for more information about my experience and knowledge in this area of medicine.