Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the presence of abnormally phosphorylated tau protein in the depths of one or more cortical sulci. Controversy over the risk of CTE and neurologic disorders later in life among contact sport athletes has taken hold in the public spotlight, most notably in American football. Players, parents, coaches, and legislators have taken action based on the commonly held notion that contact sports invariably lead to neurodegenerative disorders. However, to fully understand the science behind this assumed association, a critical appraisal of the evidence is warranted. With regards to CTE in sports, the objectives of the current report are to: 1) describe the history of CTE, 2) review current CTE definitions, 3) critically evaluate the empiric data, divided into all contact sports and exclusively American football, and 4) summarize notable themes for future research.
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