What Is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?
As scientists learn more about chronic traumatic encephalopathy, their findings are having a profound effect on how we go about our daily lives and the kinds of activities we find acceptable. Also known as CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative brain disease that is the result of repetitive head trauma. The symptoms, as they progress, can become very debilitating, with profound, life-altering effects on the people suffering from it.
Doctors and researchers have known about CTE for decades. As far back as the 1920s, doctors recognized the phenomenon, which at the time was referred to as punch-drunk syndrome, in boxers. Few cases were positively identified, however, and it wasn’t until the early 2000s that researchers began to connect what they were seeing in boxers to other sports and activities.
In 2005, Dr. Bennet Omalu claimed to have found signs of CTE in a former professional football player, Mike Webster, who in the last years of his life suffered from a number of impairments, both mental and physical, and was also battling depression. Increased research in the last decade has shown these are all symptoms of CTE, and doctors are discovering new cases all the time, affecting numerous professions and activities, including heavy contact sports like football, professional wrestling, and hockey, as well as war injuries.
In addition, other groups that have been shown to be at risk of CTE include victims of repeated domestic abuse, people with epilepsy, and those with mental disorders that cause them to engage in repetitive head banging.
By far, the group most at risk of CTE is athletes. Most troubling, doctors have confirmed that younger athletes, under the age of 18, who are still undergoing brain development, are especially vulnerable. The younger the exposure to repeated blows to the head, the more likely a person will eventually develop CTE. Dr. Omalu has gone so far as to compare allowing children to play youth football to child abuse.
Symptoms and Treatment
Symptoms of CTE include depression, mood changes, headaches, sudden anger, erratic behavior, memory problems, impaired judgment, difficulty maintaining balance, and the gradual onset of dementia. Unfortunately, the symptoms rarely show up until much later, and it could be years before victims realize they are suffering from CTE.
Doctors recommend that anyone who has received a blow to the head or suffered a concussion should take every precaution to get adequate rest and avoid any further blows. CTE is normally the result of repetitive head trauma, and a failure to allow the brain enough time to heal before reengaging in risky activities. This is especially important with young children, and parents should think long and hard before allowing their children to engage in high-contact sports.
If you or someone you love is suffering from CTE, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries. You’ll need to consult with an attorney who understands the science behind traumatic brain injuries and has a proven track record of success when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. At Naizby Law, we know how difficult it can be to live with CTE, and we will fight aggressively on your behalf. Call (203) 245-8500 today to schedule a free consultation.
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For over 20 years, John has exclusively represented people (not corporations).
John has received the America’s Top 100 Attorneys Lifetime Achievement Award.
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John is a graduate and senior instructor at the Trial Lawyers College.