Stories about: Junior Seau

What should parents know about concussions in the wake of Junior Seau’s suicide?

William Meehan, MD, director of Boston Children's Hospital's Sports Concussion Clinic

Yesterday’s suicide of former NFL star Junior Seau has once again raised troubling questions about the short- and long-term impact of concussions on the brain. While it’s not clear that Seau was diagnosed with concussions during his 20-plus year career, his method of suicide—shooting himself in the chest—echoes that of former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson, who killed himself in 2011 and left a note saying that he wanted his brain to be studied for the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). According to Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE is “a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma.”

Notice that it doesn’t say, “a history of concussion”. What’s troubling about CTE is that it’s not just happening to former NFL linemen who make their living crashing into each other every week. William Meehan, MD, director Boston Children’s Hospital’s Sports Concussion Clinic, says he’s seeing serious concussions in kids who play sports not typically associated with them.

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