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Study: San Diego Chargers player had brain injury before suicide

Recently, a study from the National Institutes of Health revealed that Junior Seau, a former linebacker for the San Diego Chargers who was widely regarded as one of the NFL's best players, had a degenerative brain disorder before he committed suicide in May 2012. The NIH scanned Seau's brain, and discovered abnormalities consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disorder caused by chronic brain injury. According to his ex-wife, Seau had displayed unusual behavior before his death, including forgetfulness, mood swings, irrationality and depression.

CTE is a commonly occurring medical condition among football players. According to the National Institutes of Health, 34 professional football players and nine who only played college football were diagnosed with CTE. The disease has been directly linked to blunt head trauma, which occurs frequently in an extremely physical sport such as football. The NFL faces several lawsuits from the families of players who have suffered from CTE, claiming that the organization did not adequately provide information about the health hazards of concussions from sports injuries. NFL teams have given more than $30 million in research grants to the National Institutes of Health to combat the problem.

This case illustrates the dangers of sports injuries to one's mental health. Seau, as a linebacker and one of the most aggressive players in the NFL, probably endured a series of injuries involving head trauma in his position. The repetition of trauma to his brain may have caused CTE, and this may have led to the deterioration of his mental state and his eventual suicide. This case is a truly tragic example of the health hazards facing football players.

Professional football players who suffer from CTE may be entitled to worker's compensation benefits. The benefits will help offset the medical expenses incurred due to the disease, and help keep the families of the players in good financial shape. This is the least those suffering from CTE and their families deserve.

Source: NBC Los Angeles, "Junior Seau had chronic brain damage: study," Jan. 10, 2013

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