Serious Concussions Can Result in Disease Similar to Alzheimer’s


Only those who have loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s can truly understand how debilitating the disease can be. That was, until
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) was introduced as a relatively new diagnosis – the result of repetitive or undiagnosed concussions. Both are progressive diseases of the brain, degenerative, and have similar symptoms, but CTE cannot be diagnosed until after an individual dies.

Differences Between CTE and Alzheimer’s

509px-concussion_mechanics-svgWhile there are similarities between CTE and Alzheimer’s, there are also significant differences. Typically, the symptoms of CTE begin earlier in life – possibly in an individual’s 40s – as opposed to Alzheimer’s, in which patients generally show symptoms in their 60s or older. Initially, memory problems present with Alzheimer’s, and they tend to be the central focus of the disease, while CTE symptoms revolve around judgment and reasoning, solving problems, controlling impulses, and aggression.   

CTE can lead to dementia and some individuals with CTE have had thoughts of suicide. Scientists believe that genetics and age play roles in whether or not an individual will develop CTE. Preventing, diagnosing, and treating concussions is crucial because there is no way to determine if an individual has CTE until after he or she dies.

Symptoms of a Concussion

In order to know whether or not to seek medical treatment, it is important to be aware of the symptoms to look for in patients who have CTE. Below is a list of symptoms to be cognizant of if you or someone you know has recently experienced a head injury:

Cognitive

  • Difficulty thinking
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Amnesia

Emotional

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Abnormal sleep

Physical

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred Vision
  • Ears ringing
  • Numbness in arms

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and you think you might have suffered a concussion, you should get to a doctor to be evaluated as soon as possible.

Diagnosing and Treating CTE

While research is ongoing, at this point in time, CTE can only be diagnosed after a patient dies. CTE is diagnosed with what is called postmortem neuropathological analysis, which is basically a brain analysis that is performed after the person dies. Nobody has come up with a way to diagnose CTE using MRI, CT, or other brain imaging technology. Unfortunately, there is also no cure for the disease. Researchers are continuously working on trying to find a way to diagnose CTE during life, as well as ways to treat and cure it.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious head injury that was the result of another person’s negligence, you should contact a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney. Brain injuries can completely upset and impact a person’s daily life for the rest of his or her life. You do not have to pay the price for someone else’s actions. Let our experienced brain injury attorneys fight for your rights. You can fill out our online form or call us directly at (215) 512-0039 or toll free (877) 415-6495 to discuss the details of your case and receive a free case evaluation.   

(image courtesy of Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator)

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