David Duerson was a former Chicago Bears safety who took his own life in February. He left a note behind requesting that his brain be studied for evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a dementia-like brain disease afflicting athletes exposed to repeated brain trauma.
This month, scientists announced that Duerson’s brain tissue showed evidence of CTE.
That makes 14 of 15 former NFL players whose brains — studied at the Boston University School of Medicine Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy — showed signs of CTE. The common denominator for these players was repeated concussions and blows to the head.
Scientists say they have found evidence of CTE in the brain of an athlete as young as 18. Head trauma suffered during participation in high impact sports can lead to permanent brain injury.
Update: The New York Times reports that Dave Duerson’s son filed a lawsuit against the NFL over the organization’s handling of concussions and brain injuries in its players. See Duerson’s Son Sues N.F.L. Over Handling of Concussions