When Junior Seau committed suicide on May 2nd, 2012, it came as a shock to the sports world. Seau was known for being a fantastic player and an even better teammate.
Questions about degenerative brain disease and concussion have been on the rise for the past few years, and their link has been inescapable. Seau’s brain was donated to the National Institute for Health, to see what the results were, and on Thursday Morning, a statement was released.
A team of independent researchers who did not know they were studying Seau’s brain all concluded he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease typically caused by multiple hits to the head.”
What was found in Junior Seau’s brain was cellular changes consistent with CTE,” said Dr. Russell Lonser, chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Ohio State University, who led the study of Seau’s brain while he was at NIH.
Patients with CTE, which can only be diagnosed after death, display symptoms “such as impulsivity, forgetfulness, depression, [and] sometimes suicidal ideation,” Lonser said.
Seau’s family described to ABC News and ESPN a long descent into depression in the years prior to his death.
Over 30 players have been formally diagnosed with CTE the past few years, and Seau’s case is concerning because he was never diagnosed with a “formal” concussion. This news will only continue the controversy regarding brain injuries in the NFL and other pro sports.