CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) Awareness Day is observed every year on January 30 to spread awareness around this rare degenerative brain disease that develops after repeated head injuries, commonly reported in football, boxing and hockey players and sometimes in domestic violence victims. There’s little one can do to diagnose the disease in its early stages, but protective head gears while playing sports can help to a great extent. The neurological disorder can only be diagnosed by post-mortem brain examinations and people suffering from it have trouble with impulse control, aggression, depression, irritability, paranoia, anxiety, and difficulty with memory and sleep. (Also read: Top lifestyle habits that raise risk of dementia)
While a single injury in head is unlikely to cause the condition, repetitive injuries seem to trigger the degenerative disorder. If you are someone who has suffered a head injury while playing sports and have been experiencing mood swings and depressive symptoms, you should go for a doctor’s consultation.
On CTE Awareness Day, Dr Vipul Gupta, Director of Neurointervention and Co-Chief of the Stroke Unit at Artemis Hospital, Gurugram, sheds light on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a condition that has gained increasing attention in the realm of neurology.
“CTE is a progressive brain disorder primarily associated with repetitive head injuries, particularly those sustained in contact sports like football, boxing, and hockey, says Dr Gupta, as he calls for a need for awareness surrounding this condition, as it often goes undiagnosed until late stages, leading to profound neurological consequences.
ALL ABOUT CTE
From symptoms, progression to prevention, Dr Gupta shares key aspects of CTE in an interview with HT Digital.
1. Link to repetitive head trauma
CTE is characterised by the accumulation of abnormal tau protein in the brain. This protein buildup is believed to be triggered by repetitive head trauma, even if the injuries do not result in immediate symptoms.
2. Symptoms and progression
Early symptoms of CTE are subtle and can be easily overlooked. These may include memory loss, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating. As the condition progresses, individuals may experience more severe cognitive and emotional disturbances.
3. Diagnosis challenges
Diagnosing CTE poses significant challenges. Currently, the only definitive diagnosis is through post-mortem brain examinations. Dr Gupta stresses the importance of ongoing research to develop reliable diagnostic tools for identifying CTE in living individuals.
4. Prevention and mitigation
While complete prevention may be challenging, measures can be taken to reduce the risk of CTE. Proper helmet use, rule changes in sports, and improved awareness about the consequences of head injuries are crucial steps toward minimising the impact of repetitive trauma.
5. Research initiatives
Dr Vipul Gupta encourages support for ongoing research initiatives aimed at understanding CTE better. Advances in imaging technologies and biomarker research offer hope for earlier detection and improved management of this debilitating condition.