Video transcription
Concussions are a serious business, and their long-term impacts can be life threatening.

In 2013, Junior Seau, an NFL all-star linebacker, shot himself in the chest. His family donated his brain to neuroscientists at the National Institutes of Health, who were conducting ongoing research on traumatic brain injury and football players.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy

They didn’t know they were studying Seau’s brain — but they examined it and concluded from the cellular changes that this brain had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a degenerative disease caused by multiple hits to the head.

In Seau’s case, this resulted from two decades of hits to the head. And almost three dozen other NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE. This condition was once called “punch drunk” syndrome, because it was originally noticed in boxers, who routinely took blows to the head.

Because CTE describes subtle changes at the cellular level, it can only be diagnosed at autopsy. But the signs, while someone is alive, often include impulsivity, forgetfulness, depression and sometimes suicidal ideation. And this presumably explains the long descent into depression that Seau had in the years before his suicide.

Concussions don’t have to be repeated over and over to be a serious health threat. More generally, the risk of long-term changes in the brain is high if you’ve had more than one brain injury. Having one puts you at higher risk when you have another.

Concussions don’t have to be repeated over and over to be a serious health threat. Click To Tweet

It matters a lot to be able to detect when a concussion has happened and take the proper steps for treatment, because otherwise you roll the dice with brain health. When it comes to the brain, that’s never worth it.

Learn how you can start tracking your brain health with BrainCheck here.