Anderson Injury Lawyers | February 7, 2023 | Brain Injuries
CTE is a brain disease that develops after ongoing head trauma. The condition was only identified about two decades ago, which means that scientists still have a long way to go in fully understanding why CTE develops and what can be done to cure the condition.
Although CTE is fairly rare, it has tragic implications for patients and their loved ones. Knowing the risk factors and signs of CTE can help you begin the process of seeking medical support promptly if the condition develops.
Because of how the condition develops, recovering personal injury compensation may be possible for those living with CTE or their immediate family members.
CTE: When Head Trauma Causes Brain Disease
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy — commonly shortened to CTE — is a rare type of degenerative brain disease. The condition is known to occur primarily among individuals who have spent years sustaining repeated head traumas.
CTE centers around a protein in the brain called tau. Sustained head trauma appears to disrupt how tau functions, leading to misfolding. Protein misfolding itself isn’t uncommon; when proteins malfunction in this way, the result can be a host of neurodegenerative diseases.
In the case of CTE, tau misfolding appears to result in a chain reaction: the impacted tau causes misfolding in other brain proteins, resulting in an ongoing process of degenerating brain tissue.
The first evidence of CTE was recorded in 2005, which means that the condition is relatively understudied. Scientists are continuing to develop an understanding of how CTE develops, why it progresses, and how it can be stopped before further damage is done to a patient’s brain.
Who Is At Risk for CTE?
While the scientific community still has much to learn about why CTE develops, the primary risk factor is clear: ongoing head trauma, usually sustained over a period of years.
Thus far, CTE has primarily been studied among two groups most likely to sustain head injuries as a part of daily life: athletes and veterans.
While CTE has been associated with several sports, those who play contact sports are most at risk. The greatest number of confirmed CTE cases by far involve individuals who play tackle football. CTE has also been documented among athletes from many other sports, including martial arts, boxing, hockey, rugby, professional wrestling, soccer, baseball, and basketball.
The second most common source of CTE appears to be military service, often due to explosions, vehicle crashes, and other sources of head trauma.
A handful of CTE cases have also been confirmed in individuals who sustain repeated head trauma through other sources, such as medical conditions or domestic violence.
Concerning News for Young Athletes
In recent years, CTE has made headlines as public knowledge has grown about the risk of developing the condition, especially for professional football players. As more cases of CTE are discovered, young athletes have many reasons to be concerned.
Initially, it was thought that CTE develops over many years, most often impacting patients later in life. More recently, it has become clear that CTE symptoms can begin to manifest much earlier. The youngest patient with a confirmed case of CTE was a high school football player who died at the age of 18 years old.
One former high school football player committed suicide at the age of 24, while another college football player ended his life at the age of 21. It was confirmed that these young men were both living with CTE. The impact of this disease on the brain likely played a central role in why these young men took their own lives.
Evidence that CTE can already be present in the brains of teenagers and young adults illustrates the high risk of youth athletes developing the condition. CTE isn’t just an issue for NFL players; it also poses a potential threat to every middle and high school football player across the country.
Common CTE Symptoms
CTE often begins to manifest with symptoms related to behavior and mood. Over time, these symptoms begin to impact cognitive function. Some of the most widely documented CTE symptoms include:
- Sleep issues
- Mood changes
- Issues with impulse control
- Impaired decision-making abilities
- Memory loss
The final stages of CTE often result in dementia. CTE also leads to an increased risk of substance use, suicide, and motor disorders.
How To Diagnose CTE
A conclusive CTE diagnosis is only possible after death because it requires the examination of a patient’s brain tissue. Currently, doctors can only determine that CTE is likely present based on certain symptoms.
If an individual is experiencing the common symptoms of CTE and has a history of participating in contact sports or military service, there’s a good chance that CTE is the reason for their symptoms.
There is no known treatment that will stop or reverse the brain damage associated with CTE. Instead, someone dealing with suspected CTE can be assisted through education to know what to expect. Therapy can help support them through emotional and behavioral changes.
Since CTE tends to progress toward dementia, patients and their loved ones can begin making long-term plans for medical care and other important matters.
Gaining Personal Injury Compensation for CTE
Gaining compensation for CTE may be possible with the help of a brain injury lawyer. Personal injury laws allow brain injury victims to gain compensation from the parties that caused their injuries.
In the case of CTE, a lawyer can help by building a case against the responsible party, such as the sports organization the impacted individual played under.
CTE is a tragic ending to an athletic career or military service. The long-term cost of assisted care when dementia begins to set in is a cost most families struggle to afford. The disease also robs a family of their loved one as mood, behavior, and memory changes worsen over time.
Consulting a brain injury lawyer can help bring compensation for the financial and emotional impacts that occur when a loved one develops this debilitating condition.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Texas
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth or Dallas and need legal help, contact our personal injury lawyers at Anderson Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation. We proudly serve Tarrant County, Dallas County, and throughout Texas.