2 weeks ago
One of football’s most notorious, and in a way tragic, personalities has contributed to some of the most important CTE research to date, according to USA Today. Specifically, the brain of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez was found to have concussion damage unseen in anyone under 40, and researchers at the CTE Center at Boston University called this diagnosis “one of the most significant contributions to [their] work.”
Hernandez, who hung himself in prison at age 27, was found to have Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, one step below the most severe diagnosis. Further, the concussion damage found in his brain was located in areas affecting his memory, impulse control and behavior. This marks the first time that Stage 3 CTE has been seen in someone so young, and the researchers remarked that this level of brain damage was usually found in patients nearly double his age.
At a recent medical conference, CTE Center head researcher Ann McKee showed slides of Hernandez’ brain to a stunned audience, and remarked that, while CTE alone can’t explain why he murdered Odin Lloyd in 2013, “we can say collectively, in our collective experience, that individuals with CTE, and CTE of this severity, have difficulty with impulse control, decision-making, inhibition of impulses for aggression, emotional volatility, rage behaviors.” McKee also said that Hernandez’ brain has given researchers gave researchers an unprecedented view of markers associated with CTE.
As of this writing, BU researchers have found CTE in more than 100 former NFL players, some of whom committed suicide.