Researchers to Examine Aaron Hernandez’s Brain for Brain Injury and CTE
Researchers will examine the brain of troubled former NFL star Aaron Hernandez who tragically committed suicide in his prison cell for possible brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. According to People.com, authorities performed an autopsy on Hernandez’s body, but his brain was withheld until investigators could determine how the 27-year-old died.
His brain will be released to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center at the request of Hernandez’s family members. The center studies CTE, which is a progressive, degenerative brain disease found in some athletes, including football players who have experienced repetitive brain trauma. The research center will perform tests to determine whether Hernandez suffered from CTE.
CTE and Football Players
This is a disease that has been found in dozens of NFL players after their death as the disease cannot be diagnosed when the person is living. Several former NFL players including Junior Seau, who also killed himself, were diagnosed with the disease. Symptoms of CTE can include aggression, depression, diminished impulse control, memory loss, impaired cognitive skills and suicidal tendencies.
A former tight end with the New England Patriots, Hernandez committed suicide five days after he was acquitted of double murder charges in the deaths of two men outside a Boston nightclub in 2012. He was still serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, his fiancée’s sister’s boyfriend. Hernandez was discovered hanging from a bed sheet in his cell. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Concussions Increase the Risk
Emerging evidence suggests that individuals who have experienced repeated traumatic brain injuries (concussions) or multiple blows to the head without loss of consciousness, such as professional athletes and combat veterans, are at higher risk of developing CTE than individuals who have not experienced repeated brain injuries.
A mild traumatic brain injury, also known as a concussion, either doesn’t knock you out or knocks you out for 30 minutes or less. Short-term symptoms often appear at the time of the injury, but can develop days or weeks later. Traumatic brain injuries can also be classified as moderate or severe, depending on symptoms and the length of unconsciousness the brain injury causes. We hope Hernandez’s family gets the answers and the closure, which they are seeking.