Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries. Symptoms may include behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking. Symptoms typically do not begin until years after the injuries. CTE often gets worse over time and can result in dementia. It is unclear if the risk of suicide is altered.
Most documented cases have occurred in athletes involved in contact sports such as boxing, American football, professional wrestling, ice hockey, rugby and soccer. Other risk factors include being in the military, prior domestic violence, and repeated banging of the head. The exact amount of trauma required for the condition to occur is unknown. Definitive diagnosis can only occur at autopsy. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a form of tauopathy.
There is no specific treatment. Rates of disease have been found to be about 30% among those with a history of multiple head injuries. Population rates, however, are unclear. Research in brain damage as a result of repeated head injuries began in the 1920s, at which time the condition was known as dementia pugilistica or "punch drunk syndrome". Changing the rules in some sports has been discussed as a means of prevention.