Junior Seau - An Illustrative Case of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and Update on Chronic Sports-Related Head Injury



  • CTE diagnosis can only be confirmed posthumously with an autopsy, and the incidence and true causation of CTE is therefore unknown.
  • We discuss the clinical case of Junior Seau, one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history, who was diagnosed with CTE after his violent suicide. He had suffered repetitive mild traumatic brain injuries to the head during his career and had severe behavioral changes upon retirement.
  • The neuropathological analyses of Seau’s brain revealed the regional distribution of tau neurofibrillary tangles consistent with CTE.
  • Seau’s case, along with other studies, implicates the role of repetitive brain impacts as a potential risk factor for CTE.




Few neurologic diseases have captured the nation’s attention more completely than chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) discovered in the postmortem autopsies of professional athletes, most notably professional football players. The tragic case of Junior Seau, a Hall of Fame linebacker, has been the most high profile confirmed case of CTE. Here we describe Seau’s case, which concluded in an autopsy conducted at the National Institutes of Health, confirming the diagnosis.

Case Description

Since 1990, Junior Seau had a highly distinguished 20-year career playing for the National Football League as a linebacker from which he sustained multiple concussions. He committed suicide on May 2, 2012 at age 43, after which an autopsy confirmed a diagnosis of CTE. His clinical history was significant for a series of behavioral disturbances. Seau’s history and neuropathological findings were used to better understand the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and possible risk factors for CTE.


This high-profile case reflects an increasing awareness for CTE as a long-term consequence of multiple traumatic brain injuries. The previously unforeseen neurological risks of American football has begun to cast doubt into the safety of the sport.

Autor / Fonte:Tej D Azad, Amy Li, Arjun V Pendharkar, Anand Veeravagu, Gerald A Grant World Neurosurgery 2015 October 19
Link: http://www.worldneurosurgery.org/article/S1878-8750(15)01375-3/abstract