As a child, my husband was beaten on the head by an abusive father then, as a young adult, he went into the military and received multiple blows to the head. He has memory loss, depression, and other mental issues. Could these symptoms point to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) rather than to the basic diagnoses of depression, memory loss, etc.?
Multiple concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) may result in the cognitive and behavioral problems as you describe. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a relatively new term that refers to a pattern of pathological findings in the brains of individuals (predominantly athletes) who sustained multiple mTBIs and manifested cognitive and behavioral problems.
Individuals who are depressed may also complain of memory difficulties. In fact, many people with mTBI are depressed, which can make an accurate diagnosis more challenging because of similar and overlapping symptoms. Currently, CTE cannot be diagnosed until after a person’s death. Therefore, it is important to provide your healthcare provider information pertaining to your history of concussions in order to most appropriately guide treatment. Treatment could include rehabilitation, counseling, and/or medication.
Steven Flanagan, MD is professor and chairman of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, and the medical director of the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University Langone Medical Center.