What Causes CTE?
Surprisingly, a child does not need to play in the NFL to get Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). It is now being detected in student athletes who never played college or professional sports. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain linked to repetitive brain trauma. This can be
GETTING ONES “BELL RUNG”
or repeated BLOWS TO THE HEAD
Hits can be symptomatic concussions as well as sub-concussive hits to the head that DO NOT CAUSE symptoms (repetitive head impacts). Many routine American football tackles involve sub-concussive hits. Just the action of stopping a moving brain quickly can create a sub-concussive hit.
In layman’s terms… the brain floats on its stem in fluid inside your skull. When the skull stops suddenly, twists violently, or takes a blow, the floating brain can smack or abrade against the rough inside of the skull. At this point researchers believe that the brain tissue can become damaged and a protein called tau can become present. A person with damaged brain tissue from these sub-concussive hits may think everything is normal because symptoms are often not present with these smaller hits. This is the part researchers find troubling because without symptoms the athlete subjects the brain to further hits, thus compounding an already serious problem. As time goes on this tau protein spreads and begins to interfere with the proper functioning of the brain. This is the nightmare known as CTE.
Some neurologists believe that the child brain is more susceptible and the sooner a child plays in a sport that involves head trauma, the greater the risk. This may be because the brain is not fully developed until the mid twenties and the fact that kids’ heads are disproportionally large compared to their bodies and necks. Add the weight of a helmet to the head and a young child becomes a “bobble-doll” and more unbalanced.
Other researchers believe that as a child advances in age in the game of American football and other sports the hits become more intense. They claim that no matter how developed the neck and body has become, the hits are of car crash proportions and CTE becomes a very real threat.
What sports can cause these blows to the head? See this link: Sports Which Involve Head Trauma
Here’s the good news in all of this…If we keep heads from getting knocked around, we may keep precious brains from developing CTE.
Here’s the bad news…Helmets protect the skull and face to a certain extent, but no helmet has yet been developed to protect the brain from trauma, concussion, and more importantly CTE.
Research is showing CTE to be much more widespread than previously believed. Take time to learn more…
What happens to the brain during a concussion? Dr. Giza from UCLA demonstrates.
These are useful tools whether you are suffering from CTE or caring for a loved one.