What Is CTE and How Can It Be Diagnosed?

diagnosing cte

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease found in the brain that is caused by repeated head trauma. Recent studies have shown a link between athletes including NCAA football and basketball players and CTE, increasing the need for a better understanding of the condition and how it can be diagnosed.

What is CTE?

When the brain experiences repeated trauma, it builds up a type of protein called Tau (T-proteins) that slowly kills brain cells over time. T-proteins will continue to kill brain cells even once the repeated trauma has discontinued, and symptoms of CTE often occur months or years after the trauma has ended.

CTE Symptoms can include:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Progressive dementia

Diagnosing CTE

Diagnosing CTE can be quite challenging for a variety of reasons. Many of the symptoms of CTE mimic the signs of aging, making it difficult to differentiate between the two. In order to make a diagnosis, a doctor will first check neurological health by testing speech, language, cognition, reflexes, muscle tone and strength, sense of sight and hearing, coordination, and balance among other things. If the patient has a history of brain trauma from military service or contact sports, and fails the neurological tests, this can lead to the diagnosis of CTE.

While it was long thought that athletes were at risk for developing CTE, the first football player wasn’t diagnosed until 2002. Since then, athletes have been pushing sports organizations to take responsibility for their injuries. Last month, an appeals court affirmed a settlement wherein the NFL will compensate retired football players who suffer from CTE symptoms. This ruling sets an important precedent for other sports organizations and their duty to keep players safe.

NCAA Concussion Lawyers  

If you or a loved one have experienced brain trauma as a result of a head injury while playing for an NCAA regulated team, please contact the attorneys at Raizner Slania. The NCAA has an obligation to protect student-athletes, not to be a silent party to their injuries. Call us today for a free consultation.


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