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/