If you follow football or boxing, then you’ve probably heard of CTE concussions, and if you’re familiar at all with CTE concussions, then you know how terrifying they are. A weekend rewatch of the Ron Howard film Cinderella Man combined with an ongoing curiosity about the human brain left us wondering about CTE concussions, so let’s dive a little deeper into this very scary condition.
What is a CTE Concussion?
(image via: boxrec)
A CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, concussion is a progressive brain condition that’s thought to be caused by repeated blows to the head and a number of concussions. So, you can see without further explanation why those who follow boxing and/or football have probably heard of these before. We want you to stop and think for a second just how repeated blows to the head could and would affect a person, and we promise you, it’s probably even worse than what you’re thinking.
What Are the Symptoms/Stages of a CTE?
While you might think a CTE concussion comes on all at once, they actually tend to follow four stages. The four stages of this specific concussion look like this:
- Stage I: CTE concussions start off with headaches and a loss of attention or concentration. So right off we can see how stage I probably often gets overlooked. If you’re no stranger to getting clocked, then a headache or trouble concentrating could very well just be second nature to you.
- Stage II: Stage II is when things get to be really scary; at this time those with CTE may find themselves struggling with depression, explosivity, and short-term memory loss. In even more serious cases, those with CTE even have trouble with language, and impulsivity, and may even feel suicidal.
- Stage III: Those with stage III CTE will notice that their symptoms are getting even more severe, along with aggression, in fact, about 75% of people with CTE at this time are considered “cognitively impaired”.
- Stage IV: This is known as the final stage of CTE concussion where victims suffer from executive dysfunction and severe memory loss. Studies show that the most common deaths among those with CTE include respiratory failure, cardiac disease, suicide, and overdose.
(image via: wiki)
Now that we have an idea of what a CTE concussion is and how severe the symptoms can be, let’s take a look at some shocking facts studies have discovered.
- CTE isn’t just about concussions, but it does have everything to do with your brain getting all shook up inside your skull. In fact, all that sloshing around eventually leads to a buildup of an abnormal protein known as tau, which starts to take over parts of your brain. In fact, the amount of tau in your brain is how pathologists diagnose CTE.
- There is a lot that scientists and/or doctors don’t know about CTE concussions, such as how prevalent they are. It’s possible that there are both genetic and environmental issues that play a part in the diagnosis, but research has found that 96% of ex-NFL players have CTE. Coincidence?
- The most common death among those with CTE concussions? Suicide.
- Unfortunately, there is no cure for those with CTE, nor is there a way to diagnose it in the living. The only way CTE can be properly diagnosed is by autopsy.