Autopsy findings released today by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stated that when former NFL San Diego Chargers’ linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide in May, 2012, he was suffering from a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated hits to the head.
According to The New York Times, those findings by NIH are consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE,) a degenerative brain disease widely associated with athletes who have absorbed frequent blows to the head.
“The type of findings seen in Mr. Seau’s brain have been recently reported in autopsies of individuals with exposure to repetitive head injury,” the NIH said, “including professional and amateur athletes who played contact sports, individuals with multiple concussions, and veterans exposed to blast injury and other trauma.”
Researchers at Boston University, who pioneered the study of C.T.E., have found it in 18 of the 19 brains of former N.F.L. players they have examined.
Seau’s family donated the former linebacker’s brain to the NIH for study shortly after the ball player’s high profile suicide last spring.
The NFL released the following statement today:
“We appreciate the Seau family’s cooperation with the National Institutes of Health. The finding underscores the recognized need for additional research to accelerate a fuller understanding of CTE. The NFL, both directly and in partnership with the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and other leading organizations, is committed to supporting a wide range of independent medical and scientific research that will both address CTE and promote the long-term health and safety of athletes at all levels.
The NFL clubs have already committed a $30 million research grant to the NIH, and we look forward to making decisions soon with the NFL Players Association on the investment of $100 million for medical research that is committed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. We have work to do, and we’re doing it.”
For more on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, see the video accompanying this article.
Seau played 13 seasons for the Chargers before being traded to the Miami Dolphins, where he spent three years before his final four years playing with the New England Patriots. He retired from pro football in 2010.
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