Do You Know About CTE?
What is CTE?
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is an illness which is often caused by contact sports such as football, martial arts, hockey, rugby, American football and so on. It can often take many years to make an appearance and can have similar effects on your brain as a concussion would. It is currently only possible to identify CTE in death through analysis of the brain.
What causes CTE?
CTE is caused by repetitive impacts to the head which may, or may not leave someone with a concussion. Although a concussion shares many symptoms of CTE, a concussion is not necessary to suffer from CTE. Due to the similarities studies have said it is hard to differentiate between the two during life. Research conducted by VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank has looked at hundreds of brains to further study CTE and surprisingly found 250 of the 400 brains to show signs of CTE. The Concussion Legacy Foundation have suggested sub-concussive impacts are the biggest factor in CTE, not concussions.
The best available evidence tells us that CTE is caused by repetitive hits to the head sustained over a period of years. This doesn’t mean a handful of concussions: most people diagnosed with CTE suffered hundreds or thousands of head impacts over the course of many years playing contact sports or serving in the military. — The Concussion Legacy
What is the difference between concussive and sub-concussive impacts?
Simply put, concussive impacts cause symptoms right away, where-as sub-concussive impacts do not show symptoms right away but slowly damage our brain commonly causing reduced attention.
Who’s at risk?
The main cause for CTE is multiple impacts to the head over prolonged periods of time which often do not cause concussions. Thus, anyone who serves in the armed forces, or participates in sports which involve impacts may be at risk of CTE. Prolonged participation in these activities does not guarantee CTE symptoms will appear as there are other factors at play.
CTE has been found in individuals whose primary exposure to head impacts was through tackle football (200+ cases confirmed at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank), the military (25+ cases), hockey (20+ cases), boxing (15+ cases, 50+ globally), rugby (5+ cases), soccer (5+ cases, 10+ globally), pro wrestling (5+ cases), and, in fewer than three cases each, baseball, basketball, intimate partner violence, and individuals with developmental disorders who engaged in head banging behaviors. — The Concussion Legacy
What do we know?
Concussions in sports are heavily monitored for the most case and provide athletes with a specific period which must be adhered to before returning to sport to avoid any further damage to the brain, and eventually after a certain number of concussions you may be pulled from playing a sport or may decide it’s time to move on, this may suggest why concussions where not found to be a direct cause for CTE as many of the athletes experiencing concussions may have stopped playing their sport and thus halted the impacts to the brain.
A higher prevalence of CTE has been found in studies involving participants who first got involved in contact sports before the age of 12 in comparison to those who started after and can become progressively worse the longer someone exposes themselves to repetitive head injuries.