My “little” brother, who is on his Kentucky college’s football team, has been playing football since he was in middle school. Recently, he has begun to have occasional spells of slurred speech and some mental slowness. His doctor told him that he may be showing signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. What is it, and how can we find out if he has it?

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Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a degenerative brain disease that affects many athletes who play high-contact sports. CTE likely develops over a number of years in people who have experienced repeated blows to the head.

You have probably heard the term punch drunk—this is a descriptive term for CTE symptoms that was coined when boxers were observed with slowed or slurred speech, tremors, and confusion.

According to, the research being done by Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University has linked head trauma to CTE. Her work suggests that each incidence of head trauma causes an increase in the amount of tau protein in the brain. Tau protein seems to be an indicator of damage to the brain.

Unfortunately, the only way to confirm a diagnosis of CTE is during autopsy. No medical test exists that can detect the condition while a person is alive.

Often, a Kentucky brain injury is not the result of a chosen activity. If someone has caused your loved one to experience such an injury, contact an experienced Louisville brain injury lawyer. Call Gray and White Law at 502-210-8942 or toll-free at 888-450-4456 to set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation.