I posted the following comments to a friend’s facebook Wall when he first posted the story of Junior Seau‘s suicide. At the time, I did not know much about Junior Seau; however, I had an inkling that the suicide could be CTE related. My sincere sympathy to Junior Seau’s family. May his soul rest in eternal peace!
There has been a spate of traumatic brain injuries in the NFL which the NFL was not willing to acknowledge until 2010 when a Congressional Judicial
Hearing forced them to face the reality of what is happening to their retired players. Most of them sustained multiple concussions that were not treated but they were forced to return to play almost immediately. They live in constant pain and have short- and long-term memory losses which is like a living nightmare. Short-term memory is essential to daily living.
Dave Duerson committed suicide he did so in such a way that he would not damage his brain so that it be could studied. It was a virtual sacrifice for medical research to help other players that are TBI sufferers. Tony Dorsett is also having similar problems and he has sued the NFL. It would not surprise me to find out that Junior Seau took the same path out of a life of misery of living with TBI.
The fact is that TBI is a new frontier for most doctors. Most of them don’t understand TBI and they are often dismissive of TBI incidents but the effects are degenerative so years after the victims, especially children and teens, that have concussions suffer with no explicable reason, There are also college players with TBI conditions.
The US Federal government is now focusing on TBI. They have a website and doctors are now required to do CT scans hours apart after a concussion incident because bleeding in the brain does not show up immediately after a TBI incident. Six or eight hours later — the bleeding shows up while the initial scan may have been clean. There are also guidelines for “return to play” for schools, colleges and the NFL. Players can no longer be returned to play immediately following a concussion incident. http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/
There has always been knowledge of “Pugilist’s Punch Drunk Syndrome” which was associated only with boxers. It was not until Dr. Bennett Omalu — a renowned Nigerian neuropathologist — examined the brain of Mike Webster and other players whose brains were sent to him after they passed that the understanding of TBI which he termed “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy” (CTE) and the implications of concussions among the general public and NFL players was understood. The concussion results in the deposit of “Tau proteins” (a gunk of dead nerve cells) in the brain which interferes with electrical signals in the brain and brain function that depends on which part of the brain is affected.
Most NFL players suffered multiple concussions which can occur over several parts of their brain so their brain function can be impaired in a significant way. Just imagine the nightmare of losing both your short-term and long-term memory and also being in constant pain from the injuries. There was no documented evidence of TBI in his case; however, everything that I have read about Walter Payton seems to also point in that direction. http://www.braininjuryresearchinstitute.org/archives/bennet-omalus-testimony-to-house-judiciary-committee/
As Dr. Bennett Omalu testified, the deposit of Tau Protein does not show up on CT Scans and MRI. It cannot be seen with the naked eye. It was only after he sent samples of Mike Webster’s brain to a lab for specialized exam that the tau proteins showed their ugly face. Like Dave Duerson, Junior Seau may have shot himself in the chest to avoid damaging his brain so that it can be studied. If it turns out that there are tau proteins, his family can be compensated when the NFL lawsuit is settled. The most important thing with TBI is awareness. When people understand what is really happening with their brain and how best to cope with and live with TBI, it is half the battle. The other part of the battle is finding a way to live with it so that you can minimize the impact and not beat yourself up over every setback but take the punches and roll with it!
This is why I set up my blog to help people to know that they are not alone and that there are resources available to help them cope with TBI (aka CTE). I feel that people will despair less if they understand the condition and have no fear of what is going on. Because it is not a visible injury, doctors dismiss it. When people think of a brain injury they expect to see visible scars. Most people including friends, co-workers and family members can also be very dismissive. However, families are also impacted in a very negative way and they also suffer when their loved one, often a former high performer, no longer functions at the level that they once performed and they are at a loss to understanding what is really going on, and helpless because they have no clue how to help the person. The more that people know and understand, the better for the TBI victim and their family.
I have to add that Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian, was attacked by the NFL. It was not until doctors at Boston University corroborated his work that the NFL accepted his findings. I spoke to Bennett and he told me that they did not believe him when he first published his work. They even attributed the term CTE, which Dr. Omalu coined, to the Boston University researchers. Now he is widely recognized for his ground-breaking work. Dr. Bennet Omalu also collaborates with Dr. Daniel Amen to help the NFL players.
- Discussion of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Warranted After Junior Seau Death (rantsports.com)
- 911 call: Junior Seau showed no signs of life when found (pennlive.com)
- Junior Seau’s Brain To Be Donated For Research Into Football-Related Injuries (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
- Junior Seau’s Family Will Allow His Brain to Be Studied (nesn.com)
- Junior Seau’s family consents to brain study, chaplain says (news.blogs.cnn.com)
- World-Famous Doctor Helps With Junior Seau’s Autopsy (nbcsandiego.com)
- Family Allows Brain to be Studied (theconcussionblog.com)
- Junior Seau’s family will donate his brain to concussion research (aol.sportingnews.com)
- My comments about Junior Seau’s suicide! (brainhealthresources.wordpress.com)
- There is Help for These Battered Athletes – and also TBI patients! (brainhealthresources.wordpress.com)
- Comments on blogs and news articles! (brainhealthresources.wordpress.com)
- Family to donate Junior Seau’s brain for research purposes | NFL (brainhealthresources.wordpress.com)
- Football great Junior Seau’s brain to be examined (brainhealthresources.wordpress.com)
- World-Famous Doctor Helps With Junior Seau’s Autopsy (brainhealthresources.wordpress.com)
- Junior Seau’s Family Talks to Elders About Brain Study (fox8.com)
- Junior Seau’s family unsure about donating his brain (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)