Chronic traumatic encephalopathy: A critical appraisal

Benjamin Levin, Anish Bhardwaj

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) formerly known as dementia pugilistica is a long-term neurodegenerative disorder associated with repeated subconcussive head injuries in high-contact sports. We reviewed the existing literature on CTE and examined epidemiological trends, risk factors, and its temporal progression, and proposed the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms that may provide unique insights to clinicians with an in-depth understanding of the disease to aid in the diagnosis and prevention, and provide future perspectives for research via search of Medline and Cochrane databases as well as manual review of bibliographies from selected articles and monographs. The prevalence of CTE in recent years is on the rise and almost exclusively affects men, with pathologic signs characterized by progressive memory loss, behavioral changes, and violent tendencies with some patients demonstrating Parkinsonian-like symptoms and signs. Many patients with CTE die following suicide, accident, or complications of drug or alcohol use. Postmortem pathologic analysis is characterized by neurofibrillary tangles and Aβ plaques in 50 % of cases. Currently, there are no ante-mortem diagnostic criteria, but modern imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, MR spectroscopy, and diffusion tension imaging hold promise for delineating the future diagnostic criteria. Further long-term longitudinal studies are warranted to investigate risk factors that will enhance understanding of the disease progression and its pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-344
Number of pages11
JournalNeurocritical Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Dementia
  • Encephalopathy
  • Neurodegenerative
  • Pugilistic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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