Former San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots linebacker Junior Seau shocked the football world when he took his own life in May 2012.
Seau‘s family was especially shocked; most likely for closure and to prevent the same from happening to other athletes, his family choose to donate his brain to the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Washington, D.C.
The results were what we all expected. Seau had become one of many players whose time taking hard hits in the NFL led to CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
His brain was analyzed in a blind study, meaning that nobody doing the diagnosis would know who’s brain they were testing. His brain was amongst three in this particular blind study. In addition to CTE, Seau’s brain also had a very small region in the frontal lobe of the brain which had evidence of scarring.
Dr. Russell Lonser, former chief of surgical neurology at the NIH, said:
Specifically, the neuropathologists found abnormal, small clusters called neurofibrillary tangles of a protein known as tau within multiple regions of Mr. Seau’s brain. Tau is a normal brain protein that folds into tangled masses in the brain cells of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and a number of other progressive neurological disorders. The regional brain distribution of the tau tangles observed in this case is unique to CTE and distinguishes it from other brain disorders.
The type of findings seen in Mr. Seau’s brain have been recently reported in autopsies of individuals with exposure to repetitive head injury, including professional and amateur athletes who played contact sports, individuals with multiple concussions, and veterans exposed to blast injury and other trauma.”
Seau’s family recalls how Junior became distant, detached emotionally; sometimes losing his temper. They say he became irritable over the smallest things. All of this behind closed doors, most friends and acquaintances saying they never knew there was any issue.
The NFL is currently in the middle of a lawsuit flied by more than 4,000 former players who claim the NFL was aware of the dangers of concussions and they purposely withheld the information from them. The result for some past players is an awful post-football life.