Aaron Hernandez, a former football player for the New England Patriots, was diagnosed with CTE a few days ago after being deceased for seven months. On April 19, 2017, Hernandez had hanged himself in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster, Massachusettes. He had been given a life sentence in 2015 after being convicted of first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd, which happened back in 2013. With the arrest, Hernandez was forced to leave the Patriots, and over $250,000 worth of merchandise that had his name on it was recycled and destroyed. Many fans were shocked with the arrest of Hernandez, despite former allegations against him, fans still had supported him in his football career.
Fast forward to September 2017, researchers decided to look at brain scans of Aaron Hernandez to see if he had suffered from CTE. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma.CTE is usually caused by repetitive hits to the head and concussions over the course of many years. Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed after death through brain tissue analysis.
NBC Boston reported that Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University’s CTE Center, stressed that she could not “connect the dots” between the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy and the behavior of the 27-year-old who hanged himself in April while serving life in prison for murder.But McKee said CTE had significantly impacted key parts of Hernandez’s brain, including the hippocampus — which is associated with memory — and the frontal lobe, which is involved in impulse control, judgment and behavior.
The report also detailed how researchers have never seen a case of CTE in someone as bad as it was for Aaron Hernandez. Since there is no known way to diagnose the disease in a living person, people didn’t realize how ill Hernandez was. It’s unclear if his actions were caused by his football career and the injuries that went with it.
Although the actions of Aaron Hernandez are awful, the new diagnosis of CTE leaves more unanswered questions regarding the mental health of the football player. Hernandez is now the youngest person to be diagnosed with a severe case of CTE and although he had died at age 27, he would’ve lived the rest of his life out in prison. Researchers are using the information they have learned from Aaron Hernandez’s brain scans and life to move forward to find out how to diagnose CTE before death.