About "Punch-Drunk" Syndrome
Dementia pugilistica, is commonly referred to as punch-drunk syndrome, due to the fact that it was originally discovered in boxers in the 1920s. In fact, the term itself derives from the Latin word pugil, which translates as "boxer" or "fighter." It occurs in people who have suffered multiple concussions, and it commonly manifests itself as dementia - or declining mental ability - along with problems with memory, and Parkinsonism, which is characterized by a lack of coordination.
A study published in 1928 in the Journal of the American Medical Association was the first to describe dementia pugilistica. The report noted that boxers who suffer from this condition will commonly experience tremors, slowed movement, speech problems and confusion. Dementia pugilistica frequently goes undiagnosed, due to the fact that it will commonly not begin to cause symptoms for many years or even decades. Further, its symptoms are often mistakenly ascribed to the effects of old age or conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
Dementia Pugilistica and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
Dementia pugilistica is actually a variant of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is itself a serious type of brain damage resulting from repeated concussions and is found in many professional athletes and military personnel who have been subjected to multiple impacts to the head. Severe concussions and mild traumatic brain injury are both capable of causing CTE, and the likelihood of developing this condition is increased with the number of impacts. Whereas CTE was formerly believed to be a disease which affected primarily only professional and amateur boxers, it is now understood to be an affliction suffered by many more people. The doctors at the Brain Injury Research Institute have made considerable contributions to raising public awareness of CTE and we are working to find effective solutions for prevention and treatment.