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Belcher's Brain Validates Concern Over Repeated Sports Traumas

A lot of the possible effects of brain trauma are known. When injuries are obvious, such as the type of traumatic brain damage that can result from a car or work accident, medical malpractice or a serious sports injury, victims can suffer a loss of physical ability. Mental and behavioral issues are not uncommon, either, and typically are watched for.

Some brain injuries, however, are less obvious. They may even go completely undetected. It may be only after the person has died and an autopsy performed that the evidence of the damage can be confirmed.

Even if the damage that was done might be attributable to the suspected negligence of someone else, many might decide after a victim’s death that it’s too late to seek compensation from the responsible party. Such a decision, though, should not be made before consulting with an experienced attorney.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is among those neurological damage conditions that can be difficult to trace. The case of Kansas City Chiefs starter Jovan Belcher seems to attest to this fact.

He was only 25 when he shot and killed his girlfriend and himself in 2012. As was recently reported by The Kansas City Star, Belcher had no documented history of concussions, but friends say he had suffered a number of them and an analysis of Belcher’s brain has now determined that he was likely suffering from CTE at the time of his death. The information is expected to become a factor in several personal injury suits against the NFL and the Chiefs.

In the wake of the murder-suicide, word came that Belcher had been irritable and unpredictable. According to information online at the Brain Injury Research Institute, those could be signs of CTE. It says that common symptoms of the condition include erratic behavior, lack of impulse control, impaired judgment, aggression and depression.

CTE had been known to occur in boxers but was first diagnosed in a football player in 2002. The BIRI site says the only way to confirm a diagnosis has been through post-mortem examination of the brain. But it says researchers have recently discovered a link between a particular protein and CTE which could make it possible soon to screen living patients for the condition.