In a recent study conducted by the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center at Boston University (BU), evidence of CTE, a neurodegenerative disease caused by repetitive head impacts, was found in 41.4% of 152 young athletes. The study marks a significant breakthrough in the understanding of CTE's prevalence and its impact on the mental health of young athletes.
The First American Athlete Diagnosed with CTE
Among the participants in the study was the first American athlete diagnosed with CTE, a 28-year-old female college soccer player. This diagnosis shifts the narrative on a disease predominantly associated with contact sports like football and boxing, demonstrating that it can affect athletes across various sports arenas.
Severity of CTE in Young Athletes
While the majority of young athletes in the study exhibited mild CTE stages 1 and 2, three donors were classified as stage 3. Clinical symptoms, ranging from cognitive impairment to mood disorders, were common among the athletes, irrespective of their CTE stage. This finding underscores the critical need for the comprehensive evaluation of the symptoms and clinical presentation of CTE in living athletes who have suffered repetitive head injuries.
Preventive Measures and Treatment for CTE
Ann McKee, who led the research on CTE, has been instrumental in raising awareness about the risks of CTE in sports. Through the study of brains of deceased athletes, she aims to understand the effects of repeated blows to the head. McKee's ultimate goal is to reduce the number of CTE cases among young individuals and develop effective treatments for the condition. She continues to work steadfastly to devise strategies for CTE prevention, detection, and treatment, making significant strides in the field of sports neuroscience.