Sports Related Head Injuries

What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)?

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that is associated with repetitive mild traumatic brain injuries. Symptoms include cognitive impairment, memory loss and psychiatric disturbances. The characteristic pathology of CTE is an accumulation of abnormal tau protein deposits around blood vessels in the sulci (folds) of the cerebral cortex. CTE has been reported in former athletes from a range of contact sports including rugby, soccer, American football, boxing and ice hockey, as well as in military veterans. The mechanism linking head impact and neurodegeneration is unknown.

Why we need to study CTE brain tissue

Currently, CTE can only be definitively diagnosed by post-mortem assessment of the brain as the clinical symptoms are difficult to distinguish from other forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. To accurately detect CTE in living people, we need a greater understanding of other brain changes that occur in addition to the tau deposits. Human brain tissue studies will help us understand how repetitive head impacts can lead to neurodegeneration and identify potential targets for CTE diagnosis using MRI.

Understanding the pathology of CTE

Our studies of CTE brain tissue use a new method of fluorescent labelling to obtain 10x more information from a single section of tissue than traditional labelling. The objective is to assess the full spectrum of pathological changes in the CTE brain to build a more comprehensive understanding of the disease. We are currently comparing CTE, Alzheimer’s disease and normal aged brains to determine the pathological signature of these diseases.

Contact Us

For emergencies call 111 or visit your nearest hospital
Contact Us - Sports Related Head Injuries

This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

For general inquiries:

+64 9 923 6072 – Mrs Marika Eszes, Brain Bank Manager

At time of death:

+64 21 287 8476 – Professor Maurice Curtis, Co-Director

The Neurological Foundation Human Brain Bank
Centre for Brain Research
The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019