Home » Head Trauma Strongly Linked To Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy But Precise Relationship Not Yet Known

Head Trauma Strongly Linked To Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy But Precise Relationship Not Yet Known

Other risk factors for CTE, incidence rate not yet known; connection has been "greatly overstated" says Cantu

Causal link likely exists, just not yet proven 

It is important to emphasize that such researchers are not saying that such a causal link won't ever be established. As Gardner admits,  "Ultimately, scientific research might establish that participation in contact sports leads to a distinct neuropathological syndrome, and this neuropathology causes psychiatric, cognitive and physical problems."[19]   

Indeed, the authors of one recent paper[40] acknowledge that "it simply makes good clinical sense to continue practices to minimize the number of concussions sustained and that allow for adequate recovery after any concussion" while awaiting the results of such studies. The authors of the 2015 BJSM editorial on CTE[67] take the same view: "Despite uncertainties, strategies to reduce the number of concussive and subconcussive head impacts in American football [and in other sports, presumably, such as soccer, lacrosse, and hockey] should be a top priority."

At the same time, however, they say it is "essential to avoid embracing preliminary results derived from relatively small case numbers and methodologically problematic studies as undisputed medical fact, and to allow such results to redirect clinical practice away from established standards."

A concerted effort is thus needed, they say, to educate medical professionals and the public at large regarding the state of the science of mTBI and CTE in order to avoid "catastrophizing" mTBI, to mitigate the "collective anxiety" that has resulted, and to reduce the likelihood that outcomes after mTBI will be actually be made worse as a result of the media frenzy around CTE.


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Daneshvar DH, Baugh CM, et. al. Helmets and Mouth Guards: The Role of Personal Equipment in Preventing Sports-Related Concussion.  Clin Sports Med 2011;30:145-163. 


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Originally posted February 8, 2011 Last updated November 16, 2015