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All About CTE, the Brain Trauma Common in Football Players

Aaron Hernandez in 2012. by Win McNamee/Getty Pictures

Aaron Hernandez, the former Patriots tight end who died by suicide earlier this yr whereas serving a life sentence for murder, is the latest football player to be publicly diagnosed with continuous traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The state of affairs is linked to melancholy, aggression, and points with impulse administration.

What Causes CTE?

One laborious hit to the head may trigger a direct thoughts injury, often taking the kind of a concussion. Nonetheless when any particular person takes hits to the head incessantly, over a interval of years, that’s what seems to set off CTE.

Proper right here’s how the Concussion Legacy Foundation describes it:

This doesn’t suggest a handful of concussions: most people recognized with CTE suffered numerous or 1000’s of head impacts over the course of some years collaborating in touch sports activities actions or serving throughout the military. And it’s not merely concussions: the proper obtainable proof elements in route of sub-concussive impacts, or hits to the head that don’t set off full-blown concussions, as the biggest challenge.

What Happens to the Thoughts in CTE?

The brains of people with CTE current shrinkage complete, and particularly areas identical to the medial temporal lobe, which performs a job in memory. Some components of the thoughts current tangles of tau protein. All of us have tau protein, nonetheless it varieties tangled fibers in CTE and in certain completely different neurodegenerative illnesses, like Alzheimer’s. Researchers are nonetheless finding out how these tangles form and the best way they’re linked to the indicators people exhibit whereas they’re nonetheless alive.

The severity of CTE is break up into four stages. The most common indicators in each stage embody:

  • Stage 1: Issues, consideration points.
  • Stage 2: Melancholy, mood swings, fast time interval memory loss.
  • Stage three: Memory loss, explosiveness, aggression. In a single analysis, 75 p.c of people on this stage had been thought-about cognitively impaired.
  • Stage 4: Excessive cognitive points, memory loss, dementia. They could also have a Parkinson’s-like state of affairs that impacts their actions.

Does Every Soccer Participant Get CTE?

No, many don’t. And CTE has been current in several groups of people, too: for example, military veterans, boxers, and victims of abuse. Players with longer soccer careers, and who started collaborating in touch sports activities actions at youthful ages, seem like further susceptible to get CTE.

If you’re inquisitive about any particular person specific, Wikipedia has a running list of NFL players with confirmed or suspected CTE.

How Would I Know If I Have It?

To this point, CTE has solely been recognized after demise, by analyzing the thoughts, so you might’t get a definitive prognosis. Some soccer avid gamers with CTE-like indicators have been recognized with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and CTE indicators also can overlap with completely different conditions that impact the thoughts. Researchers are in search of out pin down a prognosis after which cope with it. Nonetheless for now, there isn’t any such factor as a selected remedy for CTE.

If in case you’ve got indicators like melancholy, memory loss, or poor impulse administration, search remedy nevertheless know that your suppliers will start by looking for completely different sources for these indicators, and that there isn’t any such factor as a such issue (however) as a CTE specific remedy. So in case you’re depressed, for example, you might end up getting the an identical remedy as depressed people with out a historic previous of head injury.

When you’ll be able to, try to see a specialist who understands CTE. There could also be moreover a CTE diagnosis research program that is enrolling NFL and faculty soccer avid gamers. And do you have to’d want to contribute to CTE evaluation after you die, look into Boston School’s brain donation program.

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