The Impact of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
With the Super Bowl quickly approaching, it’s a good time to bring attention to a common disease most frequently associated with football players, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. Football has felt the greatest impact of CTE amongst all other sports due to the repetitive head trauma. CTE can also be seen in military veterans and domestic abuse victims, as well. Repeated trauma can trigger progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. The brain degeneration is commonly associated with memory loss, confusion and disorientation, impaired judgement, impulse control issues, aggression, depression, suicidality, slurred speech, parkinsonism, and eventually dementia. These symptoms often begin years or even decades after the last brain trauma or at the end of an individual’s active athletic involvement. CTE has been found in athletes as young as 17 years old, and has been known to affect boxers since the 1920’s. Unfortunately, as this time there is no cure for CTE. However, symptoms related to the disease can be individually treated. The only way to prevent CTE is to avoid repetitive head injuries. Many head injuries are difficult to predict and avoid though, but there are several ways that you can try to minimize and reduce the risk which include the following:Resources: https://www.psp.org/iwanttolearn/prime-of-life-brain-disease/cte/ https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4831982/
- Wear a helmet or the recommended protective equipment during contact sports.
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations about returning to sports after a concussion.
- Make sure contact sports are supervised properly, and by a qualified and trained person.
- Get medical advice if any symptoms of a previous head injury returns.
- Look for non-contact sport options, such as flag- or touch-football.
- Read about concussion safety and protocols.