What is CTE Hope

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 CTE Hope was created in honor of Zac Easter, a young man who took his life at the age of 24 after living with and suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) for six years. Zac loved football and asked his family and friends to make football a safer sport. CTE Hope is focused on developing a better return-to-play, learn, and work protocol for athletes, increasing awareness about the dangers of repetitive hits to the head, developing a point-of-care device that can be used at athletic events, emergency rooms, and medical clinics that measures inflammatory biomarkers ensuring an athlete is not returned to play too soon, developing a certification program to ensure that caregivers have the right information to treat and care for injured athletes, support research that identifies why some athletes are more susceptible to CTE than others, and connecting those suffering with post-TBI symptoms with resources, support and hope.


Goals of CTE Hope 

CTE Hope's goals fall under four pillars: research and prevention, support, legislation, and education. We aim to spread awareness about traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and the danger of repetitive hits to the head; prevent athletes from suffering multiple TBIs and the long-term effects that follow through cutting-edge research; and support those already suffering from post-TBI symptoms. The following are some of our 2-3 year goals:

Research and Prevention

  • Develop a point-of-care device to be used at athletic events, emergency rooms, and medical clinics to measure, in real time, inflammatory biomarkers and protein levels in the brain associated with CTE.

    • Currently, CTE Hope is sponsoring a saliva testing study, which is attempting to measure inflammatory markers and proteins associated with head trauma using new technology. The data is being collected from football and soccer players around Iowa who do, and even those who do not, suffer documented head trauma during their seasons at marked intervals and will be matched with a variety of cognitive and balance testing. The athletes’ symptoms will also be assessed. Once our research and data is validated, CTE Hope will develop an actual device (similar to the concept of a pregnancy test or diabetes blood sugar testing device) that will be able to give us an instant assessment of what is going on in an athlete's brain. 

  • Develop better return-to-play, return-to-learn, and return-to-work protocols based on physiological and cognitive symptoms and be able to determine when and if it is safe for an athlete to return to the game from a scientific and physiological standpoint.

  • Develop a certification program to ensure that caregivers have the correct information to treat injured athletes accurately.

  • Support research that identifies why some athletes are more susceptible to CTE than others.

  • Support research evaluating the proper age and function of when a person should begin engaging in collision sports. 

  • Facilitate CTE research that would allow physicians to diagnose CTE while victims are alive rather than post mortem and eventually to create treatment and management programs for those suffering with CTE.


  • Create a CTE Hope support group that will provide individuals suffering from post-TBI symptoms and their loved ones a safe space for dialogue, encouragement, resources, and hope. Once CTE Hope has developed a solid and effective structure and content base, we plan to extend our support group network around the U.S. and help others start their own support group elsewhere using the CTE Hope model

    • We are currently in the beginning stages of developing and launching our first pilot support group in Iowa.

  • Provide management and treatment resources, ranging from dietary changes to information on and referrals to specific medical programs and studies, to those suffering from post-subconcussive hit and post-TBI symptoms.

  • Create partnerships with the medical community in hopes of facilitating more support resources for those who suffer from concussions and early CTE symptoms. 


  • Support and introduce legislation requiring a certified athletic trainer on the sidelines of every contact sport event.
  • Support and introduce legislation requiring youth athletes to only play tackle football until the age of 14.
  • Introduce and support bills in Iowa (and nationally) recognizing January 30th as National CTE Awareness Day. 
    • CTE Hope was successful in getting the IA legislature to introduce and adopt a resolution recognizing January 30th, 2018 as CTE Awareness Day.
  • Introduce and supports bills in Iowa (and nationally) recognizing the third Friday in September as National Concussion Awareness Day.


  • Spread awareness about TBIs and CTE and the dangers of repetitive hits to the brain.
  • Provide consistent and updated information and news nationally through our website and social media outlets.
  • Eventually host a CTE summit, in which leading CTE experts will hold panels and talks regarding the newest advances in CTE research and treatment.