Some of the NFL’s most legendary athletes have actually lost their resides to CTE, a degenerative mind disease that results from recurring hits to the head. Here are your stories.

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NFL players Aaron Hernandez, Frand Gifford, and Andre Waters were every diagnosed v CTE.Getty images (3)
American football player Mike Webster died of a heart strike in 2002 at 50. The legend Steeler’s center, nicknamed “Iron Mike,” had a effective career significant by 4 Super key wins. Yet his post-NFL years were saturated with setbacks. That lost all of his money, got divorced, forgot exactly how to eat, and was sleeping in his car. His behavior came to be erratic and also explosive. What brought about him to shed his mind?

That to be the concern neuropathologist Bennet Omalu, MD, wanted to answer once Webster’s body showed up at the Allegheny Coroner’s Office because that autopsy.

Dr. Omalu do his an initial incision in Webster’s chest to take it a look in ~ his heart. Yes, the was definitely a heart strike that led to his early on death. Yet there had actually to be much more to this case. Webster was a menace top top the field and also possessed one unwavering strength and hunger for success. Yet his troubled life ~ football led Omalu to destruction deeper.

Omalu spent days and also nights studying Webster’s mind to find an explanation. His brain appeared regular — no shrinkage as discovered in brains with Alzheimer’s, and no obvious contusions like in dementia pugilistica, a kind of dementia found in boxers with recurring traumatic blows come the head.

Then he witnessed it: tiny brown and also red splotches everywhere. Additionally known together tau proteins, these accumulations that tangles are crucial drivers in dementia since they progressively spread and kill mind cells. Omalu knew he was onto miscellaneous big, and presented his findings in a study published in the newspaper Neurosurgery, specify name the problem chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative mind disease brought about by repeated subconcussive hits to the head. Thus much it has actually been established in individuals with a background of recurring hits come the head, with military veterans and contact sport athletes having the highest risk.

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To date, CTE can only be established during a postmortem autopsy. However symptoms of the condition can be present years prior to death, together they were in Webster's case.

“Often times in CTE, storage problems, difficulty multitasking, habits problems such as aggression, and also mood difficulties including depression worsen over time,” claims Michael Alosco, PhD, a postdoctoral other with the Alzheimer’s disease and CTE Center at Boston University. “If they live into older age, those through CTE will construct dementia.”