Friday, November 10, 2017

Aaron Hernandez's Brain Suffered Severe Damage From CTE, Doctor Says

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

(BOSTON) — Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez suffered severe damage to parts of the brain that play an important role in memory, impulse control and behavior, a researcher who studied his brain said Thursday.

Dr. Ann McKee, director of the CTE Center at Boston University, said she could not “connect the dots” between Hernandez’s severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is linked to repeated blows to the head, and his behavior. The 27-year-old hanged himself in April, while serving life in prison for murder.

But McKee said she says Hernandez experienced substantial damage to key parts of the brain, including the hippocampus — which is important to memory — and the frontal lobe, which is involved in problem solving, judgment and behavior.

“In any individual we can’t take the pathology and explain the behavior,” said McKee, who has studied hundreds of brains from football players, college athletes and even younger players, donated after their deaths. “But we can say collectively, in our collective experience, individuals with CTE — and CTE of this severity — have difficulty with impulse control, decision-making, inhibition of impulses or aggression, often emotional volatility and rage behaviors,” she said.

Hernandez hanged himself in prison days after he was acquitted in the 2012 drive-by shootings of two men in Boston and just hours before his former teammates visited the White House to celebrate their latest Super Bowl victory.

Prosecutors claimed he gunned the two men down after one accidentally spilled a drink on him in a nightclub — and then got a tattoo of a handgun and the words “God Forgives” to commemorate the crime.

He had been serving a life sentence without parole in the 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd when he killed himself in April.

Hernandez, who said he was innocent, did not raise CTE in his defense at either trial.

But after his death and September CTE diagnosis, his attorneys filed a lawsuit against the NFL and football helmet maker Riddell, accusing them of failing to warn Hernandez about the dangers of football. The lawsuit, which seeks damages for Hernandez’s young daughter, said he experienced a “chaotic and horrendous existence” because of his disease.

Hernandez inherited a genetic profile that may have made him more susceptible to developing the disease, McKee said. She said Hernandez had the most severe case of CTE they’ve seen in someone his age. Hernandez was diagnosed with Stage 3, out of 4, of the disease.

While the outside of Hernandez’s brain appeared normal, the inside showed evidence of previous small hemorrhages, which experts associate with head impacts. Other parts of his brain had begun to shrink and show large holes in the membrane, McKee said.

“Individuals with similar gross findings at autopsy were at least 46 years old at the time of death,” McKee said.



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Olympic Gymnast Aly Raisman Reveals Sexual Abuse By Team Doctor Larry Nassar

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This article originally appeared on Time.com.

Aly Raisman, a six-time Olympic medalist and one of the most accomplished gymnasts in U.S. history, says she was sexually abused by Dr. Larry Nassar, who worked as the women’s gymnastics national team doctor for decades.

Raisman is the second member of the gold medal-winning 2012 Olympic women’s team to accuse Nassar of abuse. In October, her teammate McKayla Maroney tweeted that Nassar molested her for years, beginning when she was 13. Raisman disclosed the abuse in an interview scheduled to air Sunday on CBS’ 60 Minutes, as well as in her new book, Fierce.

Nassar, who worked as a volunteer doctor for USA Gymnastics, is currently in jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to child pornography charges in Michigan. He is also named in more than 100 lawsuits filed by gymnasts and athletes he treated while working with USA Gymnastics and at Michigan State University. Those suits claim he sexually abused athletes under the guise of medical treatment. Nassar resigned from USA Gymnastics in the summer of 2015.

In the interview, Raisman says she spoke to FBI investigators about Nassar after competing at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero in 2016, after an investigation by the Indianapolis Star revealed that USA Gymnastics had a policy of not reporting sexual abuse reports unless they were filed by the victims or a parent.

Raisman, who competed on the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams and is the nation’s second most decorated female Olympic gymnast, is pushing for change at USA Gymnastics, which governs the sport and oversees the selection of world and Olympic teams.

“I am angry,” she said in the 60 Minutes interview. “I just want to create change so [that young girls] never, ever have to go through this.”

In a statement to the program, USA Gymnastics said it has adopted new policies that require “mandatory reporting” of any potential abuse. “USA Gymnastics is very sorry that any athlete has been harmed…we want to work with Aly and all interested athletes to keep athletes safe.”



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Thursday, November 9, 2017