CTE is not 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 is the difference between CTE and a concussion?
The symptoms of CTE generally do not present until years or decades after the brain traumas 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 https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/index.html. For more information on physicians in your area who work with those suffering from brain trauma, please contact your local Brain Injury Association or Brain Injury Alliance. See this page for more info: https://stopcte.org/for-you/if-you-are-an-athlete/when-to-see-a-doctor/
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. Make sure they have an understanding of CTE (it is a new disease) and have them rule out that possibility for you.
How is CTE diagnosed?
At this time CTE can only be diagnosed after death by postmortem neuropathological autopsy. Right now there is no known way to use MRI, CT, or other brain imaging methods to diagnose CTE. There is a lot of research going on to change that and come up with a diagnosis similar to the way we diagnose other neurodegenerative brain diseases. We expect to see that soon.
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, so much research is being done to try and slow the disease progression and prevent the disease. In the meantime following a healthy diet and avoiding sugars and alcohol and processed foods can go a long way to reduce brain inflammation and stop the disease. The symptoms of CTE, such as depression, anger, sleep problems and anxiety, can be treated individually. If you believe you may have CTE, please talk with your physician. For more information on treatment discussions to have with your doctor, please see this page: https://stopcte.org/whats-cte/treatment-discussions/
We know many people with possible CTE and they live happy lives. Never give up on finding a way to find that sweet spot. It is like any other disease or disability. It can be overcome and life can be fun again.