Aaron Hernandez Documentary Brings Light to CTE in Football Players

The Aaron Hernandez documentary was released on Netflix On January 15th of 2020. The documentary is titled “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez.”

So many important and some controversial topics were discussed. The series ranged from topics such as LGBTQ, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), and the childhood of Hernandez. All topics are important in nature, although, the one that really stuck out to me is the diagnosis CTE.

If you don’t know what CTE is, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is brain degeneration due to repeated head traumas that can cause symptoms such as erratic behavior, memory loss, confusion, and difficulty maintaining balance with the use of motor skills.

There is not a definitive way to diagnose the condition, in other words, the condition will only be seen upon an autopsy after the individual dies.

Scientists, doctors, and researchers have multiple ongoing studies occurring to discover how to make the condition diagnosable during life.

As of right now, there isn’t medical treatment available to individuals suffering from CTE. The only thing you can do is to try to prevent head injury and manage symptoms by consulting a psychiatrist or neurologist.

In 2017 there was a study done by Ann C. McKee, MD, a neuropathologist, and Jesse Mez, MD, a neurologist that was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The study used 202 deceased football players, of various playing levels who donated their bodies to science. Out of the 202 football players 117 were diagnosed with CTE.

The NFL has pledged $100 million in support of medical research and engineering advancements in neuroscience-related topics in 2016 and is constantly looking for answers. In addition, the NFL has also made 47 rule changes since 2002 to protect their players from the disease. Working with the NFL Players Association, the league enforces a concussion protocol for players that has been instrumental in immediately identifying and diagnosing concussions and other head-related injuries. 

There may not be an official way to diagnose individuals currently suffering from the condition, but symptom management is available with medication and therapies.

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