Researchers Say Aaron Hernandez Had Severe CTE
Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end who killed himself in his prison cell in April while serving a life sentence for murder, had a severe form of CTE, a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma. According to a report in The New York Times, this brain disease is said to have affected more than 100 former NFL players. Researchers who examined Hernandez’s brain after his death determined that it was “the most severe case they had even seen” in someone his age. Hernandez was only 27 when he died.
Unfortunately chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE can only be diagnosed after the individual’s death. Hernandez is the latest former football player to have committed suicide and then found to had CTE joining others like Dave Duerson, Junior Seau, Ray Easterling and Jovan Belcher. Seau and Duerson shot themselves in the chest, apparently so that researchers would be able to later examine their brain.
Youngest Player with Severe CTE
Hernandez was found hanging in his prison cell. He is also one of the youngest former NFL players to have been diagnosed with CTE. In July, researchers at Boston University released findings that showed they had found CTE in the brains of 110 out of 111 former NFL players. A neuropathologist who examined Hernandez’s brain said his brain showed a level of damage typically sustained by players with a median age of 67 years.
Hernandez’s lawyer Jose Baez has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Patriots and the NFL on behalf of Hernandez’s daughter seeking unspecified damages for loss of parental support. The lawsuit alleges that the Patriots and the NFL were fully aware of the damage that could be caused by repetitive head trauma, but did nothing to protect players from such harm. Baez said Hernandez’s family had witnessed him act in ways that were consistent with someone with CTE, but that they were never sure. Those with severe CTE typically have dementia and exhibit aggressive behavior.
Concussions and CTE
With all the knowledge we have about concussions on the sports field today, it is critical that coaches, be it at the high school, college, or major league level, educate players about the importance of recognizing an injury and staying away from games or practice sessions until they completely recover. Studies have consistently shown that concussions, which are generally treated as “mild” traumatic brain injuries, could cause irreversible brain damage.
This is particularly true in cases where players have suffered a number of concussions, but fail to get the treatment or care they need to completely recover. Concussions are also caused by other traumatic everyday events such as auto accidents and slip-and-fall accidents. If you or a loved one has suffered a head injury as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may be able receive compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.