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CTE Science in the News

By Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, via Wikimedia Commons

BY BOSTON UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF TRAUMATIC ENCEPHALOPATHY, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The front page of the New York Times for Monday, March 28, 2016 featured chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The piece was a snapshot of the current state of CTE science, drawing heavily from interviews with prominent figures in the field to highlight the lack of consensus about the disease.

For example, while the Boston laboratory which holds the largest CTE brain bank in the world contends that “anyone playing a head-jostling sport like football, hockey, rugby or soccer runs some level of risk” and that “it is cumulative exposure to head hits, not only concussions, that is most critical” in developing the disease, other experts contend the body of evidence isn’t strong enough yet to support even those statements. All the interviewed researchers agreed that the lack of a clear relationship between total amount of trauma and degree of disease severity makes predicting individual susceptibility to CTE impossible. Karen Postal, president of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology, also dismissed the notion that single concussions always result in permanent brain damage, saying there is “no basis” for that belief. This assessment is consistent with prior research, which has consistently shown that upwards of 95% of those who suffer concussions recover within one year.