CTE: The history and the mystery

Can researchers unravel the mystery behind Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?

Aug 07, 2015, 16:00 ET from Boston Children's Hospital

BOSTON, Mass., Aug. 7, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Which athletes are at risk for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)? Can it be prevented? How is CTE related to sports concussions? When—and how—can CTE be diagnosed?

"Our knowledge of CTE is extremely limited," says Rebekah Mannix, MD, MPH, of Boston Children's Hospital Emergency Medicine Division and author of a review article published in the August 7, 2015, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Doctors first observed signs of CTE in 1928, and described boxers affected by the condition as "punch drunk." These sluggers had developed an unsteady gait, mental confusion, delayed reaction times, hesitant speech and tremors.

Physicians' knowledge of CTE has inched forward in the last 90 years. Even today doctors can observe signs and symptoms of the condition, but it can be diagnosed only via brain autopsy.

NFL legend Junior Seau's suicide and subsequent diagnosis of CTE in 2012 illustrated CTE's devastation. Other professional football players showed similar symptoms and also were diagnosed after death.

"We know CTE affects a small group of high contact-sports athletes, primarily boxers and football players, who have absorbed repeated blows to the head," says Mannix.

But there's a great deal experts don't know.

They have not determined the prevalence of CTE in the general population, and the events leading from concussion to CTE are not well described.

"More research is needed to understand CTE and determine whether risk factors such as sports participation, multiple concussions and sub-concussive blows are the only cause of CTE," says Mannix.

Boston Children's Hospital is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 1,100 scientists, including seven members of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 members of the Institute of Medicine and 10 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Boston Children's research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Boston Children's today is a 397-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care. Boston Children's is also the pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more, visit our Vector and Thriving blogs and follow us on our social media channels: @BostonChildrens, @BCH_Innovation, Facebook and YouTube

Contact:
Erin Tornatore
617-919-3110
erin.tornatore@childrens.harvard.edu

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150807/256764

 

SOURCE Boston Children's Hospital



RELATED LINKS

http://www.childrenshospital.org/