KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Football Player Who Was Convicted Of Murder Found To Have Severe Brain Damage

The severity of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez's CTE, a degenerative disease believed to be caused by concussions, is usually found in players in their 60s. He was 27 when he committed suicide in jail.

The New York Times: Aaron Hernandez Found To Have Severe C.T.E.
The brain scan came as a surprise even to researchers who for years have been studying the relationship between brain disease and deaths of professional football players. Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end and a convicted murderer, was 27 when he committed suicide in April. Yet a posthumous examination of his brain showed he had such a severe form of the degenerative brain disease C.T.E. that the damage was akin to that of players well into their 60s. (Belson, 9/21)

Los Angeles Times: Disgraced Ex-Patriots Player Aaron Hernandez Found To Have CTE And Early Brain Atrophy
In an announcement Thursday, Boston University’s CTE Center said doctors diagnosed Hernandez with Stage 3 CTE. Stage 4 is the most serious. Both stages, usually found in much older former players, are associated with aggressiveness, impulsivity, depression and memory loss. The effort, led by Dr. Ann McKee, also found he had “early brain atrophy” and “large perforations” on a central membrane in his brain. (Fenno, 9/21)

The Boston Globe: Learn The Symptoms In The Four Stages Of CTE
A statement released by the BU CTE Center stated that Hernandez was found to have Stage 3 CTE, with Stage 4 being the most severe. According to a 2012 BU study, CTE begins with simple symptoms such as headaches and difficulty concentrating, but as the disease progresses, other, much more worrying conditions appear. (Ortiz, 9/21)

Dangers of such diseases put the spotlight on how schools handle young players —

San Francisco Chronicle: How California Puts High School Athletes At Great Risk
According to a recent study published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine and conducted by the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to minimizing preventable death on the playing field, California ranks second to last in the nation — ahead of only Colorado — when it comes to implementing policies that help prevent the leading causes of sudden death in high school athletes. (Saracevic, 9/21)

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