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Did Junior Seau’s Iconic Career Cost Him His Life?

Tiaina Baul “Junior” Seau, Jr was a American Football icon who was named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. On May 2, 2012, Junior Seau was found by his girlfriend dead of a gunshot wound to the chest at his home in Oceanside, California. The death was ruled a suicide by the San Diego County medical examiner’s office.

Over recent years there has been increasing attention focused on the neurological sequelae of sports-related traumatic brain injury, particularly concussion. Concussion is a frequent occurrence in contact sports.

Since the 1920s, it has been known that the repetitive brain trauma associated with boxing may produce a progressive neurological deterioration, originally termed “dementia pugilistica” and more recently, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE is a progressive degeneration of brains and nerves, that is associated with memory disturbances, behavioral and personality change, and speech and gait abnormalities. There is overwhelming evidence that the condition is the result of repeated sublethal brain trauma that often occurs well before the development of symptoms. Repetitive closed head injury occurs in a wide variety of contact sports.

Repetitive closed head injury occurs in a wide variety of contact sports, including football, boxing, wrestling, rugby, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and skiing. Furthermore, in collision sports such as football and boxing, players may experience thousands of head hits over the course of a single season. Although the long-term neurological effecrs associated with repetitive brain injury are best known in boxing, this effect has been reported in professional football players, a professional wrestler and soccer players.

In 2002, forensic pathologists in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania found evidence of CTE in the brains of several football players and professional boxers.

Most recently, retired NFL player Junior Seau committed suicide with a gunshot wound to the chest. Seau’s ex-wife Gina told The Associated Press after Seau’s death that Seau sustained concussions during his career. “‘Of course he had [sustained them]. He always bounced back and kept on playing.'” she said. The medical community focused on management of Concussion in contact sports might get some evidence if in fact repeated concussions have resulted in Junior Seau’s suicide.

Additional Readinge:CTE in Athletes

Related: Must know facts about Concussion

Published by

Rajeev Kurapati MD

Rajeev Kurapati MD

Rajeev Kurapati M.D. is a Family Physician practicing in Northern Kentucky hospitals, USA. Dr. Kurapati developed MDHealthGuide.com to establish an online community dedicated to the accessible sharing of reliable health, and wellness information.