What is CTE?

CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, is a brain disease that is degenerative and progressive.

It occurs as a result of repetitive head impacts. CTE has been found in people with or without a history of concussions. Concussions may add to the likelihood of getting CTE, but the biggest factor seems to be the length of time exposed to sub concussive hits. CTE was originally only thought to exist with boxers but it was later discovered in victims of physical abuse, head banging and poorly controlled epilepsy. Now it is being associated with athletes playing contact sports including American football, ice hockey, soccer, wrestling, extreme sports, as well as veterans and military personnel with a history of being exposed to repetitive hits from training or blasting. One of the largest concerns is the growing discovery of CTE in high school and college athletes and tragically athletes who only played sports at the youth level.

The brain of a person with CTE gradually deteriorates and tau proteins begin to become defective and interfere with neuron functioning.  At the current time CTE can only be verified through a specific autopsy. But there is a growing consensus among researchers that see the possibility of a clinical diagnosis of CTE, or TES (Traumatic Encephalopathy Syndrome). The clinical presentation of CTE usually begins with a lack of behavioral control: explosivity, impulsivity, rage behaviors, paranoia, violence, and loss of control. In most cases mood behaviors such as depression and anxiety occur. Memory issues, executive functioning deficits, and attention problems have also been noted. Addictive behaviors and suicidal thinking are also associated with CTE. Since often times the onset of CTE symptoms occurs many years after the RHIs, it is imperative for doctors, family members, morticians, policing entities, and rehab facilities to look for the possibility of CTE through examination of the history of each individual.

Please also see:

Symptoms of CTE

See the CDC Fact sheet on CTE at this link:

CDC-CTE-FactSheet-508

 

What do King Henry and Ernest Hemingway have in common?

A history of repetitive head trauma and possibly CTE.

King Henry was also known for his jousting prowess. Most kings avoided the dangerous sport but King Henry thought it an essential part of his leadership image and jousted for over 25 years. Researchers have made the case that brain disease as a result of his jousting passions eventually led to his sadness, unpredictable rages, madness, and memory difficulties.
 
Ernest Hemingway played football in HS and had a passion for boxing, he even had a boxing ring in his backyard. He loved bullfighters and other rigorous sports. He served on the front lines in both World Wars and survived plane, boat and car accidents. As he aged, he became ridden with paranoia, suicidal thinking, alcoholism, and irrational acts. Toward the end this very fluent writer even struggled to put three sentences together. There is a book written by psychiatrist, Andrew Farah, titled “Hemmingway’s Brain”, which lays the case for the disease in this famous author.
 
As times passes and research continues we make look back on many of our heroes and family members and ask if CTE could have plagued their life. The brain is much more fragile than we ever dreamed.