What is CTE?
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma (often athletes), including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head that do not cause symptoms. CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920’s (when it was initially termed punch drunk syndrome or dementia pugilistica).
In recent years, reports have been published of neuropathologically confirmed CTE found in other athletes, including football and hockey players (playing and retired), as well as in military veterans who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. CTE is not limited to current professional athletes; it has also been found in athletes who did not play sports after high school or college.
The repeated brain trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with common symptoms of CTE including memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, suicidality, parkinsonism, and eventually progressive dementia.
In both sets of photographs below, the brain tissue has been immunostained for tau protein, which appears as a dark brown color. Tau immunostained sections of medial temporal lobe from 3 individuals:
How do you get CTE? Can I get CTE from one concussion/hit to the head?
What is a concussion?
What are the symptoms of CTE?
I recently had a concussion, and I am suffering from a number of the symptoms listed above. Do I have CTE?
If I have the symptoms of CTE, do I have the disease itself?
How is CTE diagnosed?
Can I be evaluated at the BU CTE Center?
Can you refer me to a doctor?
Can CTE be cured? What can I do if I think I have CTE?
What’s the difference between CTE and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)?
What can I do to help/how can I become involved in research?
Do I have to be a high level amateur or professional athlete to participate in your research?
Can I participate in the Brain Donation Registry?
Source: CTE – Frequently Asked Questions