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About CTE

What is CTE?

  • CTE :: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
  • 1928 :: First identified as ‘Punch Drunk Syndrome’ in boxers
  • 1996 :: First documented in the medical literature as CTE
  • Being described as the only preventable form of Dementia
  • Studies are finding approximately 6 out of 10 individuals who experience head injuries develop depression
  • Direct result of repeated head trauma including concussions
  • Creates build-up of an abnormal protein called Tau that causes degeneration/ decay of the brain

Who does CTE affect in athletics? 

  • Approximately 1.6-3.8 million sports and recreation-related concussions are estimated to occur annually in the United States
  • Athletes at all levels of competition frequently suffer cerebral concussions.
  • Football is responsible for more than 250,000 head injuries in the United States.  In any given season 10 percent of all college and 20 percent of all high school players sustain brain injuries.
  • High school players also have a three-fold higher risk of getting a second concussion once they have had one.
  • In the NFL, retired athletes have a 37 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease than men in the general population.
  • Over 60 percent of NFL athletes have sustained at least one concussion and approximately one-quarter has had three.
  • Of the 51 confirmed cases of CTE as of 2009, 90% of the cases were athletes
    (Source and additional quick facts about CTE)

“It’s not as simple as how many concussions someone’s had — it’s total brain trauma.  Linemen who’ve had almost no concussions have the majority of cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, because on every play they get their brains rattled, trying to block with their head.”  Robert Cantu, MD, co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine and co-director of the Neurological Sports Injury Center at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

If you or a loved one is experiencing a shift in behavior, mood, or memory and you know there is a history of head injury from sports, accidents, military duty, or other trauma please learn as much as you can about CTE.  CTE is a diagnosis of exception, meaning, medical professionals often eliminate all other ‘mainstream’ diagnoses BEFORE going down the path of CTE.   CTE is not the result of a neurotransmitter/brain chemistry imbalance like depression, bipolar, or schizophrenia.  CTE is the result of brain degeneration/damage much like Dementia/Alzheimer’s.  Drugs that affect the brain chemistry like anti-depressants may cause more harm than good.  

2 brain sections on top, bottom is miscroscopic view, normal brain has no brown spots, damaged brain has many

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is marked by concentrations of tau protein, shown here as brown spots. More tau equals more damage. Left: a normal, 65-year-old brain. Right: The brain of former NFL linebacker John Grimsley, who died of a gunshot at age 45 after nine concussions.

Please contact us or navigate through our site to learn more about resources and treatment options available to CTE victims and their families.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Cindy Riggs permalink
    December 30, 2013 6:26 pm

    My son had a concussion during college baseball practice a couple months ago and dealt with a severe headache for about 3 weeks before it subsided but he still was constantly rubbing his forehead and the back if his neck. He has had some severe behavioral changes since he came home from school for Thanksgiving breK to the point that we had to get him to admit himself to an inpatient facility. He did it for us because he still thinks he’s fine. He’s been diagnosed as scitzophrenic undifferentiated whatever that means and us taking a med to stabilize brain chemicals. I think this is an odd diagnosis especially coming so soon after his head engery. The Dr there said for us to make appointments with UT Dallas to have further testing done of the chemicals in the brain. I’m so scared and want my son back. If someone can help I would really appreciate it. Thank you

    • December 31, 2013 6:12 pm

      Hi Cindy

      Please contact these groups:

      I am convinced drugs for neuro chemicals only make matters worse. He has brain damage not chemical imbalance…

      CTE is not the result of a neurotransmitter/brain chemistry imbalance like depression, bipolar, or schizophrenia. CTE is the result of brain degeneration/damage much like Dementia/Alzheimer’s. Drugs that affect the brain chemistry like anti-depressants may cause more harm than good.

      Fight for what you know is right! PLEASE

      I suffered a major concussion Nov 10 and if any one should know better my family and I should… no one advocated for me and I was in a daze — I went back to my reality (work, being a wife and mom, holiday chaos) and I am still paying for it. I am in concussion management rehab now, but I was misdiagnosed for almost a month. Trust your gut!

      Good luck Cindy. I will be slow to respond. Just recovering from a second surgery.

      Happy New Year



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