Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease which afflicts the brain of people who have suffered repeated concussions and traumatic brain injuries, such as athletes who take part in contact sports, members of the military and others.
The brain of an individual who suffers from CTE gradually deteriorates and will over time end up losing mass. Certain areas of the brain will atrophy, and other areas are prone to becoming enlarged. Another aspect of CTE is that some areas of the brain experience an accumulation of tau protein, a substance which serves to stabilize the structure of brain cells (neurons). With CTE, neurons become defective and subsequently may cause major interference with the brain’s ability to send messages.
Some of the most common symptoms include loss of memory, difficulty controlling impulsive or erratic behavior, impaired judgment, and behavioral disturbances including aggression and depression, difficulty with balance, and a gradual onset of dementia. An individual with CTE may mistakenly relate the symptoms to the normal process of aging, or might be misdiagnosed to the fact that many of the symptoms are similar to other conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.