Aaron Hernandez, the disgraced NFL player who committed suicide on April 19, was found to have an incredibly ‘severe’ case of CTE. As his family prepares to sue to the league, learn more about chronic traumatic encephalopathy
1. There are four stages of CTE. CTE (short for chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is a degenerative condition affecting the brain. CTE occurs when a protein called Tau clumps around the brain, slowly killing off a person’s brain cells. At the moment, it seems that CTE is caused by repetitive hits the head over a period of years, as the condition is frequently found in boxers, soldiers and professional athletes like Aaron Hernandez.
The former New England Patriots player, who committed suicide while imprisoned for murder, was suffering from a severe form of the disease, Boston University researchers announced on Sept. 21. An autopsy of the ex-NFL tight end showed that Aaron had stage 3 CTE (out of a possible 4.) “We’re told it was the most severe case they had ever seen for someone of Aaron’s age,” said Jose Baez, attorney for the Hernandez family, per ESPN.
2. CTE starts off with simply headaches — before getting worse. Symptoms of Stage 1 CTE include headaches, a loss of attention and concentration issues, according to a 2012 Boston University study, per the Boston Globe. Stage 2 of the disease causes depression, mood swings, explosivity, and short-term memory loss. Stage 2 also can cause impulsivity, language difficulties and possible suicide thoughts. Those suicidal urges increase when someone is diagnosed with Stage 3 CTE, along with aggression, executive dysfunction, memory loss – along with all the symptoms of Stages 1 and 2. Stage 4 CTE is the most severe, as with all the previously mentioned symptoms, a person suffers “a profound loss of attention an concentration, executive dysfunction, aggressive tendencies, paranoia, depression, gait and visuospatial difficulties.”
3. Someone with CTE is likely to experience suicidal thoughts. Aaron was found dead on April 19, as authorities at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center discovered him hanging by his bed sheets from the window of his cell. Sadly, this self-destructive fate is frequent with CTE, as 31% of those studied in that BU report claimed to be suicidal at some point.
4. The NFL may have a major CTE problem. Aaron’s lawyer announced a lawsuit against the NFL and the Patriots on Sept. 21, claiming the league and the team hide the dangers of CTE, according to ESPN. “Defendants were fully aware of the dangers of exposing NFL players, such as Aaron, to repeated traumatic head impacts,” the lawsuit said. “Yet, defendants concealed and misrepresented the risks of repeated traumatic head impacts.” The NFL recently agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed that they were misled about the dangers of playing football.
Aaron’s lawsuit claims the Patriots and the NFL failed to fulfill that end of the bargain and ultimately denied Aaron’s 4-year-old daughter, Avielle, her father’s companionship. The lawsuit is seeking $20 million, according to USA Today. Sadly, a recent study found signs of CTE in 110 of 111 former NFL players who donated their brains to be inspected.
5. There is currently no cure for CTE. This disease remains a mystery, at the moment. Theirs is no way to definitely test for CTE while a person is alive – which is why the world only learned about Aaron’s affliction after he was dead. Sadly, with no way to test for the disease in a living person, there’s no real way to cure it – for now.
What do you think about this situation, HollywoodLifers?