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CTE Diagnoses in Living Players

May 12, 2020

It’s possible that you know someone who has been given a diagnosis of CTE while still alive. CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a real condition that can be diagnosed only after a person passes away because scientists and doctors have yet to definitively tie symptoms in living players to changes in brain imaging. As a result, there is no test today that can confirm whether a living person has CTE.

What the Science Says

It’s possible that you, a former teammate, friend, or loved one have been given a diagnosis of CTE, and such diagnoses may have understandably led to confusion, anxiety, or uncertainty. Below are resources to help you navigate any concerns with a doctor or on your own.

What This Means for You

It is possible that some former players in our study have the underlying brain changes associated with CTE. Whether the symptoms they are experiencing are eventually tied to CTE or not, we believe that doctors should still be prioritizing health issues that can be managed or treated. Below are some steps former players can take when discussing symptoms with their physicians, as well as other resources for improving cognitive health today.

What You Can do with a Doctor or Specialist

If your clinician suggests that you may have CTE, ask if you have been tested for the following conditions that can affect cognitive function:

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of cognitive impairment, talk to your primary care physician (PCP) about getting a comprehensive neurocognitive evaluation from a neurologist or highly trained specialist. If you don’t currently have a doctor, contact the NFL Life Line or The Trust (Powered by the NFLPA) to get help finding a physician in your area.

To learn more about your health during a visit to the doctor:

It is important that your physician listens to you. Your PCP should be someone you trust, who understands your background, and with whom you can work.

What You Can do on Your Own

Physical exercise has been shown to be effective in improving cognitive health and quality of life:

Train your brain:

Reach out to your social circle:

Further Resources

If you have questions about this information, please email our team or call us at 617-432-5000.

If you are in distress or require immediate assistance, please contact the NFL Lifeline at 1-800-506-0078 or visit their website to chat with a trained counselor.