What Is CTE?

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Traumatic brain injuries are highly complex in the damage that they cause to the brain and the effects on the victim. One potential complication associated with multiple brain injuries is chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE describes brain degeneration caused by repeated brain injuries or trauma to the head. It is a rare disorder that is still not fully understood.

About Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy 


Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a progressive brain disease that can be fatal. “Chronic” means ongoing and long-lasting rather than an acute (short-term) injury. “Traumatic” means an injury caused by a source of external trauma, such as a bump or blow to the head. “Encephalopathy” refers to damage or disease that affects the brain. 

CTE is believed to be caused by repeated concussions or other injuries to the brain, such as head trauma among football players or military veterans. It is diagnosed using scans of the brain and mental status testing to search for signs of brain degeneration. Specifically, researchers look for a pattern of abnormal protein (tau) buildup that is unique to CTE in the tissues surrounding the blood vessels.

What Causes CTE?

CTE is not an immediate consequence of a traumatic brain injury. It is a complex type of brain damage or degeneration that comes from repeated or multiple head injuries over time – sometimes, decades. While there is no minimum number of head injuries that is necessary to cause CTE, research suggests that it is more common among individuals with several concussions or brain injuries rather than only one or two. Someone in a profession where repeated head and brain injuries are common is at the highest risk of developing CTE.

What Are the Symptoms of CTE?

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy may be hidden, with no discernable symptoms. For this reason, diagnoses during a victim’s lifetime are rare. However, it is possible for CTE to show symptoms in a patient, such as mood and personality changes, aggressive outbursts, trouble with impulse control, cognitive changes and challenges, trouble thinking or concentrating, memory loss, difficulty with executive function, behavioral problems, and motor function disabilities.

Can CTE Cause Dementia?

CTE has been associated with Parkinson’s disease and other motor neuron diseases. It has also been connected to dementia. Studies have shown that people who suffer multiple brain injuries are around two to four times more likely to develop dementia later in life. Research suggests that the higher the number of brain injuries sustained, the higher the odds are of the victim eventually developing dementia. Although more research is needed, studies are beginning to show that with better imaging techniques, CTE can be differentiated from Alzheimer’s disease in a patient with dementia.

What Are the Stages of CTE?

Scientists believe there are two forms of CTE. One develops early in life, between the late 20s and early 30s. This form may be associated with mental health issues and behavioral problems, such as aggression and depression. The second form of CTE develops later in life, around the age of 60. This type is thought to progress into dementia and other memory and cognitive problems for the victim.

Is CTE Curable?

There is no known cure or treatment for chronic traumatic encephalopathy. However, CTE may be preventable if someone who is at risk of developing this disease becomes aware of the risk and stops engaging in any activity that puts him or her at risk of further brain injury. Appropriately treating existing brain injuries and avoiding second or subsequent brain injuries can potentially prevent CTE. 

Can You File a Lawsuit for CTE? 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with CTE, you may be eligible for financial compensation for your related medical bills, lost wages and lost quality of life through a brain injury lawsuit. This might be available if one or more parties should have prevented the victim’s brain injuries, such as a negligent sports coach. Learn more about brain injury claims during a free case consultation at Knowles Law Firm. Contact us today.