Symptoms of CTE

The symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy may be similar to those seen in other types of dementia , particularly Alzheimer's disease .

Symptoms typically begin gradually several years after receiving repetitive blows to the head or repeated concussions.

They may include:

  • short-term memory loss such as asking the same question several times, or having difficulty remembering names or phone numbers
  • changes in mood such as frequent mood swings, depression, and feeling increasingly anxious, frustrated or agitated
  • increasing confusion and disorientation for example, getting lost, wandering, or not knowing what time of day it is
  • difficulty thinking such as finding it hard to make decisions

As the condition progresses, further symptoms may include:

  • slurred speech (dysarthria)
  • significant problems with memory
  • parkinsonism the typical symptoms of Parkinson's disease , including tremor, slow movement and muscle stiffness
  • difficulty eating or swallowing (dysphagia) although this is rare

However, chronic traumatic encephalopathy and concussion are separate conditions.

Many people who are concussed don't go on to develop the condition, but evidence suggests a pattern of recurrent minor head injuries increases the risk.

Although the exact causes aren't fully understood, certain groups of people are believed to be most at risk, including:

  • athletes with a history of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury particularly in contact sports, such as boxing or martial arts, American football,football (perhaps related to repeatedly heading the ball) and rugby
  • military veterans with a history of repeated head trauma such as blast injuries
  • people with a history of repeated head injuries including self-injury, victims of recurrent assault, or poorly controlled epilepsy that results in recurrent head trauma
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018