CTE = Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

This is personal topic to me. My husband and many other veterans are trying to live a normal life, after a traumatic brain injury, and the research is still so very new, that we don’t know much about it.

CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative brain disease that is once again making the news. Over the past few years many football players and combat veterans have been diagnosed posthumously with this disease, as it can’t be diagnosed while the patient is alive. Junior Seau, who was a hometown hero of mine, playing for my San Diego Chargers, was diagnosed with CTE after he committed suicide in 2012, and most recently Frank Gifford showed signs of CTE.

Those with CTE show symptoms in some of the areas we have discussed and learned about in this course. Some of these symptoms are: deterioration of attention and concentration, poor judgment, lack of insight, social instability, erratic behavior, aggression, depression, suicide, and memory loss (Ziegler, T). These injuries to the brain are caused by concussions, or traumatic brain injury. At this time it’s not known what the magic number is, or how many concussions are too many. What comes into play is the amount of concussions, the severity of the concussions, are some athletes more prone to CTE than others, and obviously not every individual is the same.

Atrophy of the frontal lobe is often caused by CTE. This is the area of the brain that affects decision-making, planning and memory retrieval. Another cognitive area that is affected by CTE is the Hippocampus, which is involved in memory function as well (Ziegler, T). All of these effects are what lead to the instability of the individual and in some cases unreasonable decision making resulting in suicide.

The reason why I chose to investigate this disease further is because I was curious about the lack of decision making, and memory. Also, being a wife to a retired United States Army Veteran who has seen combat, and all those he served with. The amount of combat veterans committing suicide is at a ridiculous rate, and while we know that many of the causes are linked to PTSD, the area of CTE needs to be examined further. Research shows that these types of brain injuries lead to erratic behavior and suicide, and at this time there is no help for that. While we can find help on the mental health side of PTSD there is still much to be learned about CTE and the effects that it has on the mind.






Ziegler, T. (n.d.). Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) – SportsMD. Retrieved November 19, 2015, from http://www.sportsmd.com/concussions-head-injuries/chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy-cte-2/


2 thoughts on “CTE = Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

  1. mrm5879

    I am sorry to hear that you have firsthand knowledge of this disease. You were right to say that the research on this topic is now well established. While I was looking into the potential treatments for CTE, I noticed there were many that were found to be ineffective or not quite ready for clinical use. One of the reasons for this seems to be that there is obviously a large amount of variation ibetween patients in the type of injury and progression of illness. This would call for a tailored approach to treatment that would need to be modified for each individual patient. Current treatment methods seem to involve anti-inflammatory medications and multipotential drug treatments that have neuroprotective qualities, such as statins and progesterone (Kumar & Loane, 2012). I am hopeful that new developments in research will soon help to reverse the damage that is done by this disease.
    Kumar, A., & Loane, D. J. (2012). Neuroinflammation after traumatic brain injury: Opportunities for therapeutic intervention. Brain Behavior and Immunity, 26(8), 1191-1201.

  2. Taelor Poletti-rokosz

    First of all, I would just like to thank you and your husband for your service to our country.
    CTE is a very serious disease that does not receive enough attention. The amount of damage that the brain must undergo in order to become damaged enough to cause atrophy and degradation of the frontal lobe is extremely concerning. It is even more concerning that there is not enough research to prevent CTE or discover more about the type of damage done to the brain by concussions. I am curious about the type of damage done to areas of the brain that regulate mood and emotions that can also lead to suicidal tendencies.

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