Why is CTE important

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE): The German Alzheimer's Society provides information on rare dementia with a new information sheet

Berlin, June 8th, 2020. The German Alzheimer Society e.V. Self-Help Dementia (DAlzG) is expanding its “Information Sheets” series with a publication on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is the current name for a disease that has been known as boxer syndrome, dementia pugilistica, punch-drunk syndrome or boxer dementia since the 1920s.

"It often affects athletes who have been exposed to repeated blows and bumps to the head during their active time," explains Prof. Dr. Alexander Kurz, board member of the DAlzG and co-author of the information sheet. "Even if the impacts did not result in a concussion, they lead to a change and deposition of the tau protein, as also occurs in Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, and thus to the destruction of nerve cells."

CTE is still largely unknown in Germany
The CTE gained greater fame since 2005 because it performed with American football players, but also with ice hockey players and those practicing other contact sports. The impetus to deal with the topic at DAlzG came from Erich Grau from Ansbach. He is a former American football quarterback and has had typical CTE symptoms for 20 years. “The past three years have shown me how important information about CTE is in Germany. Chief physicians and senior physicians of neurological clinics and university clinics could not do anything with the term. Only a few young doctors who knew football players among their fellow students had heard of CTE during their studies or from literature, ”says Erich Grau.

Symptoms and frequency
The CTE has two main clinical forms. In the first variant, the cognitive abilities change, i.e. remembering events as well as planning, organizing, problem-solving and self-control. The second variant is characterized by behavioral problems such as emotional outbursts or violence and depression. It is estimated that 15 percent of all contact sports people have had a CTE.

Treatment of the disease
There are currently no special treatment options for CTE. However, various methods and therapies can make life with a CTE easier. “Dedicated psychologists can play a very important role for people who may have CTE,” emphasizes Erich Grau. “Psychoeducation or the avoidance of difficult situations help to deal confidently with the onset of dementia or aggression. Sufficient sleep, a healthy diet, athletic training and concentration on the essential aspects of one's own life also lay a strong foundation for successfully dealing with CTE, ”he says, giving those affected hope.

Advice and exchange opportunities
Advice on CTE is also offered by the memory consultations or memory clinics. A nationwide address overview is available on the DAlzG website. The DAlzG will be active together with Erich Grau as a contact point for the exchange of those affected.

Information sheet for download
Information sheet 25 "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)" is available for download free of charge from the DAlzG website.