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What Is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a  serious medical condition that can occur after a person sustains repeated head injuries. This condition can cause lifelong effects and has even been associated with an increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts. The Mayo Clinic offers insight into CTE and the impact it can have on people, including risk factors and associated symptoms.

Causes of CTE

High contact sports are a leading cause of CTE. While football and boxing are often named, the condition can also result from numerous other sports where head injuries are likely to occur. Members of the military also have a higher risk, particularly those who’ve spend an abundance of time in combat zones. People with epilepsy can suffer from CTE as well (as head injuries can occur during episodes of seizures).


If you suspect CTE after repeated head injuries, be on the lookout for the following symptoms. Short-term memory loss is a key indicator, as is a sudden onset of depression. People may also experience impulsive behavior, irritability, problems with speech and language, and trouble with vision. If suicidal thoughts are an issue, immediate medical attention should be sought.

Signs of a Concussion

Because multiple concussions can lead to CTE, getting immediate medical assistance for a concussion is crucial. After a blow to the head, look for signs like slurred speech, an inability to recognize people, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, and one pupil that is larger than the other. In the event that the person suffering from a concussion is an athlete, he or she should be prevented from participating in sports until a medical assessment has taken place.

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