Chronic traumatic encephalopathy was first noticed in boxers who suffered blows to the head over many years. In recent years, concerns about CTE have led high school and college programs to restrict hits to the head, and the National Football League prohibits helmet-to-helmet hits.
About 4,000 former NFL players filed a class-action lawsuit last year claiming the league failed to protect players from traumatic brain injuries or warn them about the dangers of concussions.
The NFL has said that it never intentionally hid the dangers of concussion from players, and that it is now doing everything it can to protect players against concussions. The league has given a $30 million research grant to the National Institutes of Health for that purpose.
"I was not surprised after learning a little about CTE that he had it," Seau's son, Tyler, 23, told the AP. "He did play so many years at that level. I was more just kind of angry [that] I didn't do something more and have the awareness to help him more, and now it is too late."
Seau's son said the family was unaware of the side effects associated with head injuries. "We didn't know his behavior was from head trauma," he said.
Seau's ex-wife, Gina Seau, told ABC News that although her ex-husband was never formally diagnosed with a concussion, he often complained of symptoms that are related to one. Those symptoms included mood swings, irrational behavior, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression.
Dr. Russell Lonser, who led the study on Seau's brain, told the AP that the brain was independently evaluated in a "blind" fashion, meaning it was one of three unidentified brains. "We had the opportunity to get multiple experts involved in a way [that] they wouldn't be able to directly identify his tissue even if they knew he was one of the individuals studied," Lonser said.
Last month, Boston University School of Medicine researchers reported in the j
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