Traumatic brain injuries occur often in professional sports. Unfortunately, in sports like football or mixed martial arts, it’s possible for someone to have repeated concussions and head trauma that lead to a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
This condition is considered to be very rare, but it is much more common among those who play contact sports. There are treatments that help manage the symptoms, but the brain degeneration may lead to serious consequences and disability over time. This is why treatment for any brain injury is essential and should be sought as soon as possible.
How is chronic traumatic encephalopathy diagnosed?
The medical community has not yet devised a way to diagnose CTE, but other illnesses can be ruled out by looking at a person’s medical history, performing brain imaging studies and performing neurological examinations. As of 2021, the only way to get a definitive diagnosis is to perform an autopsy after a person’s death.
Sadly, this does mean that many people go undiagnosed despite having symptoms of this condition.
What kinds of symptoms can someone develop due to CTE?
Common symptoms that might arise include:
- Aggression and impulsive behaviors
- Memory loss
- Cognitive impairment
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Emotional instability
- Motor neuron disease
The trouble with CTE is that the symptoms of this condition overlap with many illnesses and injuries, both physical and mental. The symptoms may not develop right away after a head injury, either. Experts think that these symptoms arise after a person has suffered through multiple, repeated head traumas and can take many years to present in a disruptive manner.
What can someone do if they have suffered a head injury?
If you or someone you love has suffered repeat head injuries, you always need to seek medical care. Each time the brain is damaged by an injury, there is a risk of complications that will need attention.
Having a record of these repeated head injuries may help you get a diagnosis of CTE, though it is rare to do so. Even if CTE can’t be diagnosed, other conditions, like depression or trouble with your memory, may be able to be treated if you seek medical attention.