Head trauma can be one of the most devastating injuries to happen to Illinois residents. Whether one suffered a severe concussion or a minor head injury, the effects of brain trauma can be ongoing and life-changing. People who have experienced numerous head injuries may be at risk of an even more serious condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
This disease, more commonly known as CTE, is often seen by middle age or later in patients who received multiple head injuries over the course of their life. The injuries do not necessarily need to be serious concussions, as explained by the Mayo Clinic; in fact, multiple non-concussive blows to the head that do not seem severe at the time can be enough to result in the patient developing CTE later in life. The symptoms can include memory problems, difficulty concentrating, depression, mood changes, aggressive behavior, speech difficulties and suicidal ideation. The disease cannot be diagnosed while the patient is living; instead, it is confirmed after autopsy.
CTE has been in the spotlight lately because of its prevalence among former professional sports players, particularly alumni of the National Football League and the National Hockey League. The Chicago Sun-Times reported on a former NHL player who had suffered more than a dozen concussions and was knocked unconscious several times during his career, who considers these injuries to be an unavoidable part of the sport. Others who played hockey professionally say the league needs to take better measures to protect their players, since professional athletes may suffer more concussions and head blows than most people throughout their lifetimes.
When those with a history of multiple head injuries understand the risks of developing later issues, they may take a more proactive stance in ensuring the best medical care possible. The same is true for holding companies responsible for providing adequate safety protection.