Recently, a new form of degenerative brain disease has been on the rise. 

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive brain condition that develops after repeated blows to the head over long periods. Diagnosis is often difficult because the symptoms can resemble other conditions. The severity of this disease is still in early research.

CTE is characterized by several debilitating symptoms that can manifest themselves over time. These can affect the way people think, act, feel, and move.

If you or a loved one suffered numerous brain injuries in St. Louis, MO, it’s important to know the signs, symptoms, and consequences of CTE.

Concussions: The Leading Cause of CTE

Across the United States, concussions are the most common form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Repeated concussions have been determined to cause CTE in patients. Individuals who participate in contact sports such as boxing, football, and rugby are most at risk.

Concussions are caused by:

  • A blow, bump, or jolt to the head
  • Injury or trauma that causes the head to shake excessively

When the brain bounces around in the skull, it can swell up and damage cells and tissues. This can lead to chemical changes.

Common symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Painful headaches
  • Concentration problems
  • Impaired vision

CTE develops when a person experiences many concussions over a sustained period.

The Basics of CTE

When a brain undergoes chronic concussions, tissue may begin to deteriorate over time. This deterioration, also known as atrophy, causes the brain to lose mass and results in various symptoms.

Not everyone who has suffered repeated trauma to the head will develop CTE. Some additional risk factors include:

  • Age when head trauma first began
  • Years of total exposure to brain injuries 
  • Genetic factors

Though research is still ongoing, the general explanation for CTE is that the brain becomes destabilized as a result of repeated injury.

Neurons and cellular structures deteriorate, causing interference in the way the brain processes information. As a result, motor functions, memory, and mood can become permanently affected.

What Are the Principal Symptoms of CTE?

Though the symptoms vary from patient to patient, two main categories become affected.

Behavioral and mood symptoms include:

  • Aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Impulse control
  • Suicidal thoughts

Cognitive symptoms can include: 

  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Dementia
  • Loss of judgment
  • Slurred speech
  • Disorientation 
  • Slowed movements

The symptoms of CTE largely depend on the individual case, but the consequences can have long-lasting effects. Oftentimes, CTE may mirror other conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

How to Diagnose CTE

Because CTE is a relatively new medical discovery, neurologists have not yet developed a single test for diagnosis. In most cases, the only true way to know is through a post-mortem brain analysis.

The current diagnosis relies on the patient’s symptoms and medical history. A common factor in many cases is a history of contact sports injuries. 

Ongoing research shows that the changes in a brain with CTE are much different than changes seen with other conditions. Future investigation will determine whether brain imaging techniques can one day be used to diagnose CTE.

What Are the Treatment Options for CTE? 

As with other debilitating brain conditions, current treatment options attempt not to cure CTE but to alleviate symptoms.

In every case of CTE, neurologists and other healthcare professionals will work to determine the right course of action and develop a long-term plan.

Individuals may benefit from various therapies, including:

  • Speech and language therapy
  • Psychological therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Holistic approaches 
  • Assisted living 

If you or a loved one has suffered brain injuries over the years and are now experiencing debilitating symptoms, you should consult a medical professional to see if CTE may be the cause.

Contact Our Brain Injury Law Firm in St. Louis, MO

If you’ve been injured, please contact Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

St. Louis, MO Law Office
1430 Washington Ave Ste 225, St. Louis, MO 63103
(314) 444-4444

Ladue, MO Law Office
9807 S 40 Dr, St. Louis, MO 63124

Columbia, MO Law Office
28 N 8th St # 502, Columbia, MO 65201

Creve Coeur, MO Law Office 
999 Executive Pkwy Dr #205, Creve Coeur, MO 63141