Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative brain disease commonly found in athletes with a history of concussions and other brain trauma.
Repetitive head trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue that can begin decades after the last incident, according to an article by the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine and Sports Legacy Institute.
Symptoms of CTE include dementia, aggression, depression, memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment and impulse control problems.
After former San Diego Charger Junior Seau shot himself in the heart in May 2012, researchers found he had suffered from CTE. An autopsy report of former Atlanta Falcons player Ray Easterling, who committed suicide after filing the first federal NFL concussion lawsuit with attorneys Sol Weiss and Larry Coben, found that he also had CTE. Easterling played for the Falcons for eight seasons in the 1970s and suffered from dementia and depression for years after he retired.
Dozens of deceased former players were also found to have had the degenerative condition, a conclusion made by brain specialists consulted by the National Institutes of Health in Washington.