By now you’ve heard that the results of an examination on Chris Henry’s brain revealed brain damage. Specifically, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). What stands out is that Henry was never diagnosed with a concussion while with the West Virginia Mountaineers or Cincinnati Bengals. Thus, these findings could lay the groundwork for a shift in the way people – especially non-sports enthusiasts – view the violence of football.
The Cincinnati Enquirer details findings:
Neurosurgeon Julian Bailes and California medical examiner Bennet Omalu, co-directors of the Brain Injury Research Institute at WVU, found similarities between Henry's brain and that of former NFL players Mike Webster and Andre Waters.
Omalu first came across CTE, a condition often seen in boxers, after studying the brain of Webster, a Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame lineman. Webster died in 2002 of a heart attack at age 50. He had suffered brain damage that left him unable to work following his football career.
Waters, who committed suicide in 2007, had a brain condition consistent with that of an 85-year-old man, Omalu told the New York Times at the time.
Omalu noted, however, that concussions are from being the only cause of brain trauma. It’s possible that Henry’s issues derived from outside of football. As the Enquirer writes,
The bigger question is whether CTE was a cause of Henry's problems in college and the NFL, where he was repeatedly arrested and suspended. Symptoms of CTE can include failure at personal and business relationships, use of drugs and alcohol, depression and suicide.
Bailes refrained from making a judgment, saying: "Chris Henry did not have that entire spectrum and we don't know if there's a cause and effect here. It certainly raises the question and raises our curiosity. We're just here to report our findings. That may be for others to decipher."
Henry's mother, Carolyn Henry Glaspy, did tell researchers that her son suffered two concussions while playing in high school and that he started to complain of headaches as a teenager. It was also around that time that he started using marijuana.
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