The Research on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Dr. Robert Cantu talks about how growing research is showing that CTE not only occurs in the brains of older athletes who have sustained multiple hits to the head, but also in athletes as 17.

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[Dr. Robert Cantu] Well the symptoms of CTE most often begin years after someone has stopped playing their sport. So the greatest number of individuals that are symptomatic from CTE, in our experience, have been people who became symptomatic in their 40s and their 50s and their 60s. That having been said, we have individuals that have become symptomatic at a very much younger age. Don't know how it's going to play out long-term, but in looking at a group of 38 pure CTE individuals alone, we seem to be seeing a difference between those that get symptoms younger than those that get it later. The group that gets the symptoms younger seems to have the behavioral and mood symptoms predominate and seems to have the cognitive symptoms not as prominent and not be the first to occur. Whereas the group that has symptoms occurring later in life in 60s, 70s seems to have more commonly the cognitive symptoms be more predominant and the mood and behavioral symptoms not be as predominant. That group that has the cognitive symptoms predominant and is the older age group at onset tends to go on to dementia. We've seen Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a number of football players at the college level, not as many as we've seen at the National Football League level, but we've also seen it in six players at the high school age level. So we know that in susceptible individuals that have had a lot of brain trauma that you can have early CTE even at the age of 17 or 18. Owen Thomas, who was a co-captain of University of Pennsylvania, at the age of 21 committed suicide, and when his brain was studied, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy was documented.
Posted on BrainLine August 30, 2013.

About the author: Robert Cantu, MD

Robert Cantu, MD is chief of Neurosurgery Service, chairman Department of Surgery, and director of Sports Medicine, Emerson Hospital; clinical professor, Department of Neurosurgery, and co-director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Boston University School of Medicine.

Dr. Robert Cantu

Produced by Noel Gunther and Erica Queen, BrainLine.