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Chronic traumatic encephalopathy: A delayed condition

The effects of a brain injury are very scary, but the thought of chronic traumatic encephalopathy is even more scary. CTE is a condition that occurs in many people who have suffered multiple concussions. The most scary aspects of this condition are that the symptoms don't show up for years, usually eight to 10 years after repetitive concussions, and the only way that it can be definitively diagnosed is during an autopsy.

The symptoms of CTE tend to mimic other conditions that are associated with age, such as dementia or Lou Gehrig's disease. The common symptoms of CTE include behavioral changes, trouble controlling impulse, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, memory loss, and aggression.

A person who suffers from CTE has a degeneration of the brain. This atrophy, as well as the accumulation of tau protein deposits in the brain, alter the way the brain functions.

CTE is staged according to the progression of the disease. There are four recognized stages. Stage I is associated with trouble concentrating, difficulty maintaining attention, and having headaches. As the condition progresses to Stage II, short-term memory loss, depression, and explosive behavior occur. In Stage III, there is also cognitive impairment and decision-making dysfunction. By Stage IV, the person would suffer from aggression, dementia, and a difficulty finding necessary words.

Anyone who suffers from repetitive head injuries, including military members who suffered blast injuries or athletes, might suffer from CTE. If you lost a loved one due to CTE, you might opt to explore the possibility of seeking compensation. Learning the options that you have might help you in your decision.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Chronic traumatic encephalopathy," accessed March 14, 2016

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