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Is chronic traumatic encephalopathy easy to diagnose?

If your loved one has suffered from a number of head injuries and has started acting oddly, a condition that may be affecting him or her is chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

What is chronic traumatic encephalopathy?

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE to the medical community, is a condition that develops in some people after repeated injuries to the brain. This condition leads to long-term neurological and psychological impairment.

It wasn’t until recently that CTE became a highlight in the press. As more is discovered about brain and head injuries, this condition becomes better understood. What has been found so far is that, based on the developments of some with repeated injuries, CTE can cause changes in mood and behavior, the progressive decline of physical and thinking abilities and even lead some to commit suicide.

The syndrome is characterized by abnormal changes in the brain cells. Abnormal tau proteins appear, which can be accompanied by changes in the way a person behaves, thinks or experiences moods.

Is showing tau proteins enough for a diagnosis?

Having tau proteins in the brain isn’t enough to diagnose the condition. This protein is common in people suffering from various neurological conditions. It is thought, though, that the pattern of the proteins differs in those with CTE, which may allow the specific condition to be identified more easily in the future.

As of 2016, the only way to know if someone has suffered from CTE is to perform an autopsy after death. There may be signs and symptoms of the disease before death, but diagnosis would be difficult. Some signs to look for include irritability, depression, personality changes and forgetfulness. Although these signs may be present, it is not currently appropriate to diagnose CTE based on these signs alone.

The risk of CTE in those with brain injuries is something to keep in mind if you’re filing a lawsuit after a loved one’s death. If an autopsy reveals this condition, you may be able to claim for it and the impact it had on your unsuspecting family member.

There is still a lot of unknown information about CTE. What victims and family of victims with CTE do know, however, is that this severe result of head injuries is significantly and sadly life-changing.

Source: Sports Neuropsychology Society, “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy: A Q and A Fact Sheet,” accessed Aug. 10, 2016

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