Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is the talk of professional sports. From NFL players to ice hockey veterans, rugby teams, and soccer organizations, the focus on preventing head trauma is a concern for players, owners and league officials. Recently, a college football player who took his life was found to have CTE during an autopsy. CTE can often produce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Players who have repeated head trauma, even if they were not concussed, are at risk for developing CTE.
Suicide is common among CTE patients and when Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski took his life, his family and friends were shocked. He was a good student, an active player and was doing well, at least it appeared that way. When he died five months ago, researchers at the Mayo Clinic asked his parents if they could do an autopsy. They found that Tyler had signs of moderate to severe CTE. The medical examiners told Tyler’s mom and dad that his brain was similar to that of a 65-year-old in terms of function and health. Washington State where Tyler played has added more evaluations to their protocol as well as mental health screenings for Tyler’s teammates.