Postmortem Exam Finds Former NFL Player Had Brain Damage Before Committing Suicide

The Los Angeles Times reports on the findings of an autopsy performed on former NFL player Dave Duerson who committed suicide out of fear that the hard hits to his brain may have damaged it irreparably. The results released on Monday, May 2, confirm that Duerson had a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated head trauma and concussion. Duerson committed suicide last February. He was 50-years-old and left a suicide note asking that his brain be donated to Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, which is funded in part by the National Football League (NFL).

Boston University researchers say the area of the brain most affected influences inhabitations, emotion, memory, and impulse control. Duerson is one of 14 former football players whose brain displayed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Boxers and military veterans have also been found to have CTE symptoms such as depression and erratic behavior. Repeated concussions and blows to the head are considered to be the primary risks factor, but researchers have not ruled out a genetic predisposition. The NFL plans to study the report and may enact changes to the trauma experienced in the field. At the very least, former players say the league needs to provide adequate pensions and healthcare to former players.

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