Former Patriot Hernandez Had "Severe Case" of CTE

Former Patriot Hernandez Had

The condition is linked to depression, aggression, and problems with impulse control.

In recent years, scientists discovered that football causes brain damage in a majority of the athletes due to repetitive impact injuries.

It made this fact finally seem real: CTE isn't something looming in the distance for linebackers who played for 20 years or guys who gutted it out in the gladiator days of the 1970's and 80's. But the disease is about more than just concussions.

What Happens to the Brain in CTE?

Better diagnostic tests also need to be developed to identify biomarkers of CTE like high amounts of a specific protein called tau or p-tau, found in nerve cells.

Scientists are still working to identify other risk factors for CTE.

Early on, symptoms include headaches as well as loss of attention and concentration. In one study, 75 percent of people in this stage were considered cognitively impaired. The examination was performed by Doctor Ann McKee who revealed that the former tight end's brain had the most severe form of CTE: Stage IV.

Aaron Hernandez just became the most risky man in football.

No, many don't. And CTE has been found in other groups of people, too: for example, military veterans, boxers, and victims of abuse.

Football linemen make up the biggest portion of those tested by McKee, partly because almost half of the 22 players on the field are offensive and defensive linemen.

The lawsuit reads, "Defendants were fully aware of the dangers of exposing National Football League players, such as Aaron, to repeated traumatic head impacts".

How Would I Know If I Have It?

"Aaron had Stage III CTE usually seen in players with median age of death of 67 years", according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court. We say every time another study is released that shows a shocking prevalence of CTE in former football players that it adds to the growing understanding of the disease. Researchers are trying to find out how to pin down a diagnosis and then treat it. The disease is associated with aggressiveness, suicidal thoughts and dementia.

Researchers say that in a typical game the force on the player's head is equivalent to what you would see if he had driven his auto into a brick wall at 30 miles per hour.

At Gillette Stadium Friday, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick was asked what steps he takes to inform his players of the dangers of brain injuries when they join the team.

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