Junior Seau's death, among others, sparked intense discussion on how to better protect and treat athletes with brain injuries.
His suicide was a shock to everyone, and we've all been wondering what exactly it was that drove him to do it. Depression? Brain injuries? What caused it all?
Well, it turns out that he had a degenerative brain disease, and the results of an NIH study of Seau's brain revealed abnormalities consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The place that conducted the study took a look at three anonymous brains, and Seau's was the one that was similar to autopsies of people "with exposure to repetitive head injuries."
This means he joins a list of several dozen American football players who had CTE.
The problem is that not many people know the signs of CTE, or the side effects to help the person get treatment, including wild mood swings, irrationality, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression. So this definitely plays in the discussion about an increase in the NFL's education and support for those who are injured playing the sport.
Here's what the NFL said:
"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."
NFL teams have given a $30 million research grant to the NIH.
It's a start, but there definitely needs to be more done in terms of education, protection, and treatment — not just cutting checks!
[Image via Judy Eddy/WENN.]