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The NFL player concussion suit scandal has been widely publicized in both Ohio and national media outlets. One of the key players in that debate, Junior Seau, committed suicide after reportedly suffering from side effects of concussions, sparking a contentious debate about player safety. A recent investigation into Seau’s physiognomy revealed that he had developed a disease after sustaining multitudes of hits during his two-decade career. Even though concussions may not cause immediately obvious brain injury, their effects can be compounded over time, according to researchers in the case.

The 43-year-old player, who was known for his charitable work and affable demeanor, left four children behind in the wake of his suicide. His family donated his brain to researchers at the National Institutes for Health for investigation. NIH researchers are conducting continued inquiry into brain injuries and the effects of repeated concussions.

A team of independent researchers found that Seau had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease that is generally caused by multiple hits to the head. The collisions can actually change the cellular structure of brain tissue, according to scientists. CTE can only be diagnosed after death, according to medical professionals. Patients who suffer from the condition often experience forgetfulness, depression and impulsivity, among other personality changes.

That information correlates with information provided by family members and friends, who reported that Seau had difficulty sleeping, sinking into a deep depression in the months before his death.

The findings in the case are important because they could contribute to the ongoing efforts to compensate players for their workplace injuries. A class-action suit has been filed against the NFL in connection with player safety complaints that allege inaction on the part of officials who understood the dangers of repeated head trauma. More than 30 players in recent years have been diagnosed with CTE, a condition that is well-known among boxers and other contact-sports participants.

Source: ABC News, “Junior Seau diagnosed with disease caused by hits to the head: exclusive,” Jim Avila, Lauren Pearle & Russell Goldman, Jan. 10, 2013.