After his death by suicide, former NFL player Aaron Herandez's family announced that his brain would be donated to the CTE Center at Boston University for research into Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE has been found in 99% of NFL players. At present, it can only be definitively diagnosed after death. This week Dr. Anne McKee, Director of the BU CTE Center, announced that Hernandez's brain was the most severe case of CTE ever seen in a person so young.
Hernandez was 27 when he died. The damage found in his brain was a result of CTE, and Dr. McKee stated that it was advanced not only in severity but location as well. The front lobe of the brain of Mr. Hernandez was extensively damaged. This part of the brain is essential for memory, impulse control, and cognition. There was damage deep inside the brain as well in the septum. Dr. McKee said they had not yet seen a patient that had CTE extending to the septum of the brain. This region handles the transmission of signals to other parts of the brain involving emotion, impulse, and behavior. Finding CTE damage this deep in the brain is a first for the research center at BU. Dr. McKee could not say with certainty that the damage to his brain caused his actions; however, the severity of the damage was significant enough to cause some behavior issues.