Expert Ties Ex-[Football] Player’s Suicide to Brain Damage: The Serious Consequences of Concussions for Football Players

Alan Schwarz, Expert Ties Ex-Player’s Suicide to Brain Damage. The New York Times, 18 January 2007. “Since the former National Football League player Andre Waters killed himself in November, an explanation for his suicide has remained a mystery. But after examining remains of Mr. Waters’s brain, a neuropathologist in Pittsburgh is claiming that Mr. Waters had sustained brain damage from playing football and he says that led to his depression and ultimate death.” This is the first of over 100 articles Alan Schwarz has written in The New York Times exposing the dangers of concussions in football as of 24 April 2014.

Excerpt from story and links to more stories by Alan Schwarz:

The neuropathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu of the University of Pittsburgh, a leading expert in forensic pathology, determined that Mr. [Andre] Waters’s brain tissue had degenerated into that of an 85-year-old man with similar characteristics as those of early-stage Alzheimer’s victims. Dr. Omalu said he believed that the damage was either caused or drastically expedited by successive concussions Mr. Waters, 44, had sustained playing football.

In a telephone interview, Dr. Omalu said that brain trauma “is the significant contributory factor” to Mr. Waters’s brain damage, “no matter how you look at it, distort it, bend it. It’s the significant forensic factor given the global scenario.”

He added that although he planned further investigation, the depression that family members recalled Mr. Waters exhibiting in his final years was almost certainly exacerbated, if not caused, by the state of his brain — and that if he had lived, within 10 or 15 years “Andre Waters would have been fully incapacitated.”

Dr. Omalu’s claims of Mr. Waters’s brain deterioration — which have not been corroborated or reviewed — add to the mounting scientific debate over whether victims of multiple concussions, and specifically longtime N.F.L. players who may or may not know their full history of brain trauma, are at heightened risk of depression, dementia and suicide as early as midlife.

A small selection of stories by Alan Schwarz in The New York Times about the serious consequences of concussions for football players:

New Sign of Brain Damage in N.F.L.27 January 2009.

N.F.L. Data Reinforces Dementia Links, 23 October 2009.

N.F.L. Issues New Guidelines on Concussions, 2 December 2009.

N.F.L. Acknowledges Long-Term Concussion Effects, 20 December 2009.

States Taking the Lead Addressing Concussions30 January 2010.

As Injuries Rise, Scant Oversight of Helmet Safety, 20 October 2010.

Senator Calls for Helmet Safety Investigation, 3 January 2011.

Two Bills Put Focus on Equipment Safety for Children15 March 2011.

Uncertainty Over Whether N.F.L. Settlement’s Money Will Last, 29 January 2014.

For all the stories by Alan Schwarz about the serious consequences of concussions for football players go to:

Times Topics: Alan Schwarz, 24 April 2014.