If you’re like many people, you’ve heard of CTE – but what is it, how does it happen and what can you do if you or your loved one has suffered from head injuries that could lead to this debilitating brain condition? Here’s what you need to know.
What is CTE?
CTE is a medical condition that affects the brain. It’s short for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is associated with repeated blows to the head. CTE often happens in athletes, such as boxers and football players, but it can happen to anyone.
There is currently no way to diagnose CTE. In fact, the condition has only been diagnosed in the brains of people who are deceased. However, repeated traumatic brain injuries can be diagnosed – and in many cases, people with brain injuries can file lawsuits and recover damages.
Signs of CTE
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy can cause thinking and memory problems, and it’s associated with the development of dementia. It can cause behavioral and personality changes, including depression and aggression, but sometimes people don’t experience any of the symptoms until years – or even decades – after the original brain injuries occur.
Related: TBI symptoms after a car accident
What Are the Four Stages of CTE?
There are four stages of CTE, as far as scientists know, and they’re as follows:
- Stage 1: No symptoms. Proteins build up around blood vessels in the brain – mainly around the frontal lobe – but there are no specific symptoms (other than those potentially related to traumatic brain injury).
- Stage 2: Behavioral symptoms may start to appear. Some of these symptoms include rage, impulsivity and depression. As more nerve cells become affected, the behavioral changes may become more extreme.
- Stage 3: Behavioral changes intensify. Confusion and memory loss can occur as CTE begins to affect two more areas of the brain: the amygdala and hippocampus. These parts of the brain aren’t in the front – they’re more toward the center, where emotion and memory functions take place.
- Stage 4: Advanced dementia sets in. Deposits of tau protein begin to kill nerve cells and cause the brain to shrink in size. The brain begins to deform and become brittle, limiting a person’s cognitive function.
Can You Sue Over CTE?
Because there’s no way to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy in living people, it can be difficult to sue. However, if a person has passed away and CTE was discovered, you may be able to sue the responsible entity. In fact, many former football players’ families have sued the NCAA and NFL for the repeated head traumas their loved ones have suffered – and won.
You may also be able to sue if you know you have – or a loved one has – been subjected to multiple traumatic brain injuries, which often lead to CTE.
Traumatic Brain Injury and CTE Lawsuits
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, results from a violent blow or other traumatic injury to the head. Additionally, any object that penetrates brain tissue can cause traumatic brain injury.
Mild TBI may not have any long-term effects; in some cases, people whose brains are only slightly injured recover with no adverse effects. In more severe cases, though, the brain can become bruised or torn; bleeding and other physical damage can be present, as well, and those things can cause long-term complications or even death.
Related: What is traumatic brain injury?
The degree of damage a person suffers from a TBI depends on the nature of the injury, including how forceful the impact was. Falls are common causes of TBI, as are violent contacts while playing sports and exposure to explosive blasts, such as those a person would experience in combat.
You may not notice the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury right away. Sometimes it takes days (or even weeks) for the first symptoms to appear. A traumatic brain injury can be a medical emergency, particularly if a person loses consciousness.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About CTE or Traumatic Brain Injury?
If you believe your (or your loved one’s) head injury or injuries were caused by another person or entity’s negligence or carelessness, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below for a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles and Glendale personal injury attorney.