By: Christopher Pezon, Attorney, Rubenstein Law Traumatic Brain Injury Team
Stories about the neurological effects of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) on football players is all over the news today. The National Football League and the NCAA have reportedly spent millions of dollars into the study of this disease to understand its effects and how to prevent it. Current and former players themselves have been speaking out as to the effects of the degenerative neurological condition and it has raised national awareness on the subject. As a result, those afflicted with a traumatic brain injury due to motor vehicle crashes, slip and falls, or other incidents are benefiting from the additional research and focus on injuries to the brain.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma. For almost a century we've known CTE affected athletes such as boxers yet in recent years reports of CTE in other athletes, including football and hockey players have come to light. The repeated brain trauma in certain athletic sports triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, which can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of athletic involvement. They associate this brain degeneration with common symptoms of CTE including memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, suicidal ideation, and eventually progressive dementia.
The symptoms facing former athletes diagnosed with CTE are almost identical to those that the non-athlete who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car crash will face. However, whereas few medical programs devoted research dollars and resources to the study of brain injury before the topic CTE became commonplace in national media, now there are numerous facilities throughout the U.S. focusing research on how to prevent and combat the effects of brain injury. Those who suffered in silence from a brain injury now have new avenues of hope to regain some of their pre-injured selves.
Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy (CRT) has emerged as a leading method of addressing the symptoms associated with both TBI and CTE. The Brain Injury Association of America defines CRT as, a systematically applied set of medical and therapeutic services designed to improve cognitive functioning and participation in activities that may be affected by difficulties in one or more cognitive domains. In other words, CRT is often a systematic, functionally oriented service of therapeutic interdisciplinary programs designed to rehabilitate thinking skills that are impaired by a brain injury.
New specializations in CRT for brain injury survivors has led to diverse, multidiscipline in nature, and easy to administer techniques to aid the brain in essentially re-wiring damaged neurons. CRT for brain injury patients is being prescribed and administered by more and more psychologist, psychiatrist, neuropsychologist, and other mental healthcare professionals. CRT can be performed with online or computer interactive testing, physical activity that engages damaged areas of the brain, and even music therapy.
For more information about CRT and to learn more about the benefits and availability of to treat Traumatic Brain Injury please see the following resources: