Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a deterioration of the brain. It is caused by the buildup of a protein called tau. The brain damage caused by CTE can lead to severe mental and physical disabilities. The condition gets worse over time.

Researchers have a found a link between repetitive head injuries and CTE. The head injury may involve:

  • A blow or jolt to the head
  • Severe jarring or shaking
  • Abruptly coming to a stop

Over time, these injuries can lead to abnormal groups of tau proteins. These proteins can create tangled masses in the brain. The tangles can block normal brain function. Similar tangles are seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease.