Traumatic Brain InjuryThe NCAA recently settled a lawsuit with the family of yet another former collegiate football player who suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, commonly known as CTE.  Former defensive lineman Greg Ploetz played for the University of Texas Longhorns from 1968-1971, during which time his family alleges he suffered repetitive head trauma.  The lawsuit claimed that Ploetz had serious health problems throughout his life, including memory loss, difficulties with communication, and bouts of confusion.  When Ploetz passed away in 2015, his family submitted his brain to CTE researchers at Boston University, who concluded that his brain showed evidence of high levels of CTE.

CTE is a severe, but little-understood disease that is a direct result of brain injuries.  The condition has been garnering a lot of media attention recently due to its presence in many former athletes.  Governing bodies like the NFL and NCAA have fought hard to avoid admitting liability in lawsuits related to CTE in former players, but the settlement of Ploetz’s lawsuit suggests that the legal tides might be turning against these powerful organizations.  Although the terms of the settlement did not permit the release of the actual settlement amount, Ploetz’s family had requested $1 million in damages in their lawsuit.  The NCAA previously gave $70 million to a brain trauma trust to settle CTE-related claims.

What Is CTE? 

CTE is a degenerative brain disease that appears in those who have suffered repeated traumatic brain injuries, including concussions.  The disease has made its rounds in recent headlines for afflicting many former collegiate and professional football players, a phenomenon that was the subject of a 2015 film starring Will Smith.  The disease also affects athletes in other contact sports like hockey and boxing, as well as military veterans and victims of domestic abuse.

In CTE sufferers, clumps of a protein called Tau spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells and significantly impairing cognitive functioning over time.  This brain degeneration continues long after the cessation of traumatic activity, and for some people, symptoms will not appear until decades after they have quit their sport.  Although it is impossible to diagnose CTE without physically examining the brain, the presence of CTE has been detected in victims as young as 17. 

Symptoms of CTE 

The symptoms of CTE are often compared with those of elderly patients suffering from dementia, and include:

  • Mood changes, including depression, anxiety, and irritability
  • Headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Impaired judgment
  • Confusion
  • Impulse control problems
  • Aggression
  • Suicidal ideation

Are You a Victim of a Traumatic Brain Injury?  If So, Seek Legal Representation

Recent high-profile cases involving CTE sufferers have generated increased attention to the serious, and sometimes tragic, nature of traumatic brain injuries.  These injuries often have massive impacts on a victim’s quality of life, and can be extremely expensive to manage and treat.   If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation under Florida law.  The personal injury attorneys at Dennis A. Lopez & Associates have three decades of experience helping injury victims and their families to recoup damages related to their injuries.  Contact us today for a free consultation at (813) 291-3683.