Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Bharat R. Narapareddy, M.D., Matthew E. Peters, M.D.


  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is defined as a distinctive neurodegenerative disease that occurs as a result of repetitive head impact.[1]
    • CTE is a unique tauopathy originally described in boxers.
    • In recent times, CTE has been described in a variety of contact sports, such as American football.
    • In addition, CTE has been seen in military veterans and others exposed to repetitive brain injury.
  • CTE was originally studied in boxers in the 1920s by a forensic pathologist, Martland, who coined the term “Punch Drunk Syndrome.”[2]
  • In 1937, the term evolved and Millspaugh coined "Dementia Puglistica" to describe the posttraumatic sequelae of boxing.[3]
  • In 1962, the term was further amended by Courville who named it “the psychopathic deterioration of pugilists.”[4]
  • In 1973, the neuropathology of CTE was first described by Corsellis in a case series of 15 retired boxers.[5]
  • In 2005, Omalu’s autopsy report of former National Football League (NFL) player Mike Webster led to a greater emphasis on studying repetitive head trauma and concern for CTE as a result of playing American football.[6]

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Last updated: October 5, 2018