Entries in Brain (4)


Exclusive: Junior Seau Suffered Brain Disease from NFL Hits

Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A team of scientists who analyzed the brain tissue of renowned NFL linebacker Junior Seau after his suicide last year have concluded the football player suffered a debilitating brain disease likely caused by two decades worth of hits to the head, researchers and his family exclusively told ABC News and ESPN.

In May, Seau, 43, shot himself in the chest at his home in Oceanside, Calif., leaving behind four children and many unanswered questions.

Seau's family donated his brain to neuroscientists at the National Institutes for Health who are conducting ongoing research on traumatic brain injury and football players.

A team of independent researchers who did not know they were studying Seau's brain all concluded he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease typically caused by multiple hits to the head.

"What was found in Junior Seau's brain was cellular changes consistent with CTE," said Dr. Russell Lonser, chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Ohio State University, who led the study of Seau's brain while he was at NIH.

Patients with CTE, which can only be diagnosed after death, display symptoms "such as impulsivity, forgetfulness, depression, [and] sometimes suicidal ideation," Lonser said.

Seau's family described to ABC News and ESPN a long descent into depression in the years prior to his death.

Gina Seau, his ex-wife with whom he remained close following their divorce, said the linebacker had difficulty sleeping and became withdrawn and "detached emotionally" from his children.  In one exchange, he described his mood as "low" and "dark."

"A lot of things, towards the end of his life, patterns that we saw and things that worried us, it makes sense now," she said of the diagnosis.

The night before his death, Junior Seau sent a text message to his ex-wife and children in which he simply wrote, "I love you."  They were the last words anyone would hear from him.

More than 30 NFL players have in recent years been diagnosed with CTE, a condition once known as "punch drunk" because it affected boxers who had taken multiple blows to the head.  Last year, 4,000 retired players joined a class-action lawsuit against the league over its alleged failure to protect players from brain injuries.

The NFL has said it did not intentionally hide the dangers of concussions from players and is doing everything it can now to protect them.

On Thursday, the league issued a statement in response to NIH's finding: "We appreciate the Seau family’s cooperation with the National Institutes of Health.  The finding underscores the recognized need for additional research to accelerate a fuller understanding of CTE.  The NFL, both directly and in partnership with the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and other leading organizations, is committed to supporting a wide range of independent medical and scientific research that will both address CTE and promote the long-term health and safety of athletes at all levels." 

"The NFL clubs have already committed a $30 million research grant to the NIH, and we look forward to making decisions soon with the NFL Players Association on the investment of $100 million for medical research that is committed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. We have work to do, and we’re doing it," the statement continued.

Gina Seau said she and her ex-husband expected physical injuries from playing professional football but never thought "you're putting your brain and your mental health at a greater risk."

Junior Seau, she said, was never formally diagnosed with a concussion but routinely complained of symptoms associated with concussions after receiving hits to the head during games and in practices in 20 seasons in the NFL.

"The head-to-head contact, the collisions are just, they're out of control," Gina Seau said.

"He was a warrior and he loved the game," she added.  "But ... I know that he didn't love the end of his life."

For the Seaus, football gave them everything and, they believe, it has now taken it all away.  They understand its attraction and, all too well, its routine danger.

"I think it's a gamble," Gina Seau said.  "Just be extremely aware of what could potentially happen to your life."

None of the Seau children play football anymore and their mother is glad of that.

"It's not worth it for me to not have a dad," said one of the Seaus' sons, Tyler Seau, 23.  "So, to me, it's not worth it."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Clinton’s Blood Clot in Her Head Near Right Ear

ABC/ Martin H. Simon)(NEW YORK) -- The blood clot that put Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the hospital was found in her head between her brain and skull behind the right ear, her doctors said Monday.

“It did not result in a stroke, or neurological damage,” her doctors, Drs. Lisa Bardack and Gigi El-Bayoumi, said in a joint statement. “To help dissolve this clot, her medical team began treating the secretary with blood thinners.”

The doctors said Clinton will be released “once the medication dose has been established.”

Clinton, 65, was admitted to New York Presbyterian hospital on Sunday for treatment of a blood clot stemming from a concussion she sustained a few weeks ago, a Clinton aide said.

“In the course of a routine follow-up MRI on Sunday, the scan revealed that a right transverse sinus venous thrombosis had formed. This is a clot in the vein that is situated in the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear,” the doctors said.

“In all other aspects of her recovery, the secretary is making excellent progress and we are confident she will make a full recovery. She is in good spirits, engaging with her doctors, her family, and her staff,” the statement said.

Clinton was supposed to be back at work at the State Department this week, but now the date of her return in unknown.

Details of Clinton’s blood clot had not been immediately released after her hospitalization.

Members of Congress wished Clinton a speedy recovery Monday, while pressing their call for her to testify before Congress about the U.S. consulate attack in Benghazi.

“We just want to say how much Secretary Clinton is in our prayers this morning and hope she recovers rapidly from this health problem,” Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said at a press conference Monday. Lieberman is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

“Secretary Clinton has made clear that she will testify. And I think that’s a good idea,” said Lieberman.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, R.-Fla., tweeted get well wishes to Clinton Sunday night,  but also mentioned Benghazi. “Wishing Secretary Clinton a full + speedy recovery!,” Ros-Lehtinen wrote. “She’s looking forward 2 testify on #Benghazi and is bummed she can’t travel now like b4.”

Many conservatives have been skeptical of Clinton’s illness, with former U.N. ambassador John Bolton telling Fox News Clinton had come down with a “diplomatic illness” to avoid testifying on Dec. 20, a charge the State Department vigorously denied.

“These people do not know what they are talking about,” spokesperson Victoria Nuland responded.

Dr. Howard Markel, a practicing doctor and medical historian at the University of Michigan, tells ABC News that history shows the best response to rumors is transparency.  The State Department did not disclose that Clinton had a concussion until several days after it occurred and currently waited a day to disclose what part of her body her blood clot is in, leaving the media and others to make assumptions about the seriousness of her condition.

“In the absence of information, this kind of speculation often takes up the vacuum,” says Markel, who points out that Clinton is receiving excellent medical care and that her condition sounds treatable.

State Department officials say they have been transparent about the secretary’s health, keeping the press and the public aware of all major developments within a reasonable amount of time, but they also maintain that Clinton is entitled to some degree of medical privacy, a claim Markel says held up historically but does not today.

“If you’re a private person, you are entitled to your privacy as a patient. When you’re a public figure and you’re working on behalf of the American people, you give up many aspects of your privacy,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Maryland Man Tells Cops He Ate Heart, Brain of Victim

Harford County Sheriff's Office(BALTIMORE) -- A 21-year-old man charged with murdering his roommate told police in Harford County, Md., that he ate the victim’s heart and part of his brain after killing him.

Alexander Kinyua first became a suspect when his brother found what he thought were human remains in the basement of the family’s Joppatowne home.  When the brother confronted Kinyua, he told him they were animal remains, according to ABC 2 News in Baltimore. 

The brother then told his father about the grisly find, but when the father searched the basement the remains were gone.

Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane said a head and hands were recovered on the main floor of the home.  Harford County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Monica Worrell said deputies also found more body parts at a nearby dumpster.

Detectives have not yet positively identified the body.  Police say they have a strong suspicion it’s Kinyua’s roommate, Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, 37, who was reported missing last Friday, according to ABC 2 News.

Investigators say Agyei-Kodie left the house for a run but never returned.

This is the second cannibal-like attack in less than a week.  Last Saturday, police discovered a man devouring the face of a homeless man on a Miami highway. 

Rudy Eugene was shot dead by police after he refused to stop tearing the flesh off the face of Ronald Poppo, who is in critical condition after police say 75 percent of his face was devoured.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gabrielle Giffords Completes Skull Surgery in Houston

Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords(HOUSTON) -- Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had cranioplasty surgery at Memorial Hospital in Houston Wednesday morning – an important step in her fight to recover from an attempted assassination in Tucson earlier this year. A source confirmed to ABC News later in the day that the surgery is complete and that Giffords is doing well.

While she was in the operating room, the other half of this high-powered couple, astronaut Mark Kelly, spent the early hours of the morning guiding the space shuttle Endeavour through the complicated maneuvers to dock with the International Space Station.

After the Tucson shooting, in which six people died and 13, including Giffords, were injured, a portion of her skull was removed to ease the stress and pressure on her brain.

In Wednesday's procedure, a team led by Dr. Dong Kim inserted a plastic replacement, its shape generated by computer to match the shape of the lost bone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio