Junior Seau’s suicide via a gunshot to his chest mirrors Dave Duerson’s death. Was Junior preserving his brain for study to determine if he had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)? Has another great professional athlete experienced a sports related brain injury to add his name to the list of others :
[and now, potentially, Junior Seau]
Our understanding of CTE is increasing, sadly through autopsy studies. We are becoming more aware of the risks of multiple blows to the head and the compound results of these brain injuries. The unfortunate part, is that we only become aware of problems in the years after the injuries and can only confirm them upon the athlete’s death. Bennet Omalu, MD, from the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine, published a case study in Neurosurgical Focus of a 27-year old combat veteran who after two tours of duty was diagnosed as PTSD, but upon his death via suicide was found to have CTE. Is it possible that multiple exposures to blasts causes brain injury with results consistent with CTE. Are veterans being misdiagnosed?
This past February at the Santa Clara Valley Brain Injury Conference I listened to Chris Nowinski, a former Harvard University athlete and now researcher at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University and George Visger, a former pro-footballer discuss their brain injuries and their work in advocacy and prevention. Both these men were candid and straightforward in sharing their post-brain injury lives and in stressing the importance of early recognition and rapid intervention.