Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is what used to be known as “punch drunk syndrome”, a term applied to boxers in the 1920s who had experienced repetitive head blows and demonstrated neuromuscular and cognitive problems.
CTE can occur in a person with multiple hits to the head, with or without concussion. For reasons scientists don’t yet understand, the repetitive brain blows cause abnormal brain degeneration and the buildup of tau protein.
The brain degeneration is associated with common symptoms of CTE, including memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, suicidal thoughts, parkinsonism, and eventually progressive dementia. The symptoms vary in severity and time of onset, but they do progress over time.
CTE has been in the news more and more lately, ever since a physician in Pittsburgh, Bennett Omalu M.D., identified the abnormal build up of tau protein the brains of two former NFL players.
In 2008, the Sports Legacy Institute partnered with Boston University School of Medicine to create the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (BU CSTE), the world’s first research center dedicated to studying CTE.
CTE is not exclusive to sports. Soldiers and victims of domestic violence also experience the kind of repeated head trauma that can lead to CTE.
If you’d like more information about CTE, here are some sites you can check out: