CTE Brain Disease: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment


Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE, is the term used for a degenerative brain disease that occurs when the brain has endured repeated blows to the head or from jarring events, such as hard falls or whiplash. Any type of head trauma can have a lasting impact on the brain. Although it isn’t fully understood, it is a serious condition that should never go untreated.

What causes CTE?

CTE is found mostly in people who have experienced repeated blunt-force trauma to the head. CTE can occur most commonly in:

  • Contact sports like football and soccer, or any activity causing hard falls and head injury
  • Auto accidents that result in traumatic head injuries
  • Military personnel who survived explosions or other head trauma

Common Symptoms

Many people with CTE experience disruptive physical symptoms and emotional behavior. Difficulty concentrating or staying on task for long periods of time are common. Other symptoms can include:

  • Depression
  • Difficulty with thinking
  • Substance abuse
  • Memory loss
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Speech, language and vision problems

If any of these symptoms appear with increasing frequency, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Treatment Options

There is no “one size fits all” treatment plan for CTE. The condition can be progressive and cause continued degeneration of the brain tissue.

Here are some tips to reduce the risk of potential head injury:

  • Wear a helmet while playing sports like baseball, rugby, ice hockey, alpine skiing, and snowboarding
  • Wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, motorcycle, rollerblading, or engaging in any board sports

If an accident occurs and you are diagnosed with a concussion, you should:

  • Follow your doctor’s orders and get as much rest as possible.
  • Reduce your level of physical activity and avoid strenuous activities.
  • Reduce the clutter in your environment and make it as relaxing as possible, until the doctor gives you the go-ahead to resume regular day to day activities.

Any time a concussion is diagnosed, the brain has been affected to some degree. The key to controlling CTE is to minimize your risk of further damage. If you believe you have received a concussion or are experiencing the effects of CTE, seek medical attention immediately.

Getty image by Jolygon.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Controversial Will Smith Film Sheds Light on Disease the NFL Denied for Years

A condition that went undiagnosed for too long is about to enter the limelight. On Monday the official trailer dropped for the film “Concussion,” starring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the man who identified the brain disease associated with depression and dementia in former professional athletes. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain [...]

8 Things I'd Tell Myself Before My Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

Tomorrow marks my two-year anniversary of living with rheumatoid arthritis. If I could go back two years ago, this is what I would’ve told myself to prepare for what was coming. I’m sharing it here because you or someone you know may need to hear these words, too. 1. Value your health. Invest in it. Make [...]

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Diagnosed With Crohn’s Disease

I was diagnosed when I was 22 years old. I was bombarded with information from doctors, the Internet and even advice from people I barely knew. It was a scary and depressing time for me. I was in a new relationship, I had gone through months of testing to finally get my diagnosis and then [...]
A collage; On the left: A meme of a small boy making a fist; On the right: A small boy standing nect to his father in a hospital bed, both of them making a fist

The Internet Helps Dad of 'Success Kid' Have Successful Surgery

The “Success Kid” meme has become a symbol of unexpected joy and positive outcomes on the internet over the last several years. Now, the kid behind the meme has some real success to celebrate. Sammy Griner was just 11 months old when that snapshot of his triumphant pose became a massively shared meme. Now, the [...]