Frequently Asked Questions – About CTE

Sourced from Boston University CTE Center:

concussion and CTEWhat is a concussion?

A concussion has occurred any time you have had a blow to the head that caused you to have symptoms for any amount of time. You do NOT need to have lost consciousness to have a concussion. These symptoms include blurred or double vision, seeing stars, sensitivity to light or noise, headache, dizziness or balance problems, nausea, vomiting, trouble sleeping, fatigue, confusion, difficulty remembering, difficulty concentrating, or loss of consciousness. A concussion has also occurred when a person gets a “ding” or gets their “bell rung.”

 

What are the symptoms of CTE?

The symptoms of CTE include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety, suicidality, parkinsonism, and, eventually, progressive dementia. These symptoms often begin years or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement.

 

I recently had a concussion, and I am suffering from a number of the symptoms listed above. Do I have CTE?

The symptoms of CTE generally do not present until years or decades after the brain trauma occurred or after one stops actively playing contact sports. While most concussion symptoms resolve within a few weeks, the symptoms can last for months or, in severe cases, even years. When this occurs, it is called post-concussion syndrome. Post-concussion syndrome is different than CTE, and the symptoms of post-concussive syndrome usually resolve years or decades before the onset of CTE symptoms. If you believe you are suffering from either an acute concussion or post-concussion syndrome, contact your physician. For more information on concussions, visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website at http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/. For more information on physicians in your area who work with those suffering from brain trauma, please contact your local Brain Injury Association. State and local branches of the Brain Injury Association can be found here: http://www.biausa.org/state-affiliates.htm.

 

If I have the symptoms of CTE, do I have the disease itself?


Just because you have some or many of the symptoms of CTE does not necessarily mean that you have the disease itself. There are many possible causes of these types of symptoms. If you are having difficulties, you should speak with your primary care or specialist physician.

 

How is CTE diagnosed?

At this time CTE can only be diagnosed after death by postmortem neuropathological analysis. Right now there is no known way to use MRI, CT, or other brain imaging methods to diagnose CTE. The CTE Center is actively conducting research aimed at learning how to diagnose CTE during life. For more information on this research, please visit http://www.bu.edu/cte/our-research/.

 

Can CTE be cured? What can I do if I think I have CTE?

Unfortunately at this time there is no cure for CTE. However, the CTE Center is currently conducting ongoing clinical research aimed at discovering how CTE develops and progresses, risk factors for the development of the disease, and how to diagnose the disease during life. The symptoms of CTE, such as depression and anxiety, can be treated individually. If you believe you may have CTE, please talk with your physician. For more information on physicians in your area who work with those suffering from brain trauma, please contact your local Brain Injury Association. State and local branches of the Brain Injury Association can be found here: http://www.biausa.org/state-affiliates.htm.

 

Please also refer to: 

http://www.bu.edu/cte/about/frequently-asked-questions/

http://www.concussionclinics.org