In December, NFL wide receiver Demaryius Thomas tragically passed away at age 33 due to an unknown cause of death.
When discussing his death, his family believed seizures could have been the main culprit. They reported that following a car crash in 2019, the athlete suffered from uncontrollable nerve cell activity. Although the coroner of Fulton County, Georgia is yet to confirm his exact cause of death, neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University reported that a seizure was likely the reason for his passing.
After his death, Thomas’ brain was sent to researchers at Boston University where doctors confirmed that the late NFL player had the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The disease is also commonly referred to as CTE. CTE is reported to be caused by repeated blows to the head and is often associated with contact sports such as football. Thomas is one of 300 players to be diagnosed with the disease by BU doctors.
“CTE itself does not cause death. You don’t die from CTE,” Dr. McKee told reporters, according to ESPN. “What CTE does is it changes your behavior and your personality.”
Members of the Thomas family went on to confirm that the 33-year-old was affected by other CTE symptoms as well, which included erratic behavior, paranoia, and memory loss.
Demaryius Thomas’ mother discusses symptoms leading up to his death
“His mood would change, and he would also isolate himself sometimes,” Thomas’ mother, Katina Stuckey Smith, relayed in an interview. “He was, like, ‘Mom, I don’t know what’s going on with my body. You know, I gotta get myself together,’ and he said, ‘I don’t feel like myself anymore.'”
Boston Unvisiety doctors revealed that the Denver Broncos wide receiver had stage 2 CTE, which is highly linked to abnormal cognitive behavior and irregulated mood swings. In the years leading up to his death, those around him shared that he suffered from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
The latest stage of CTE is stage 4 and is typically associated with the symptoms of dementia.
Since his diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, doctors have been encouraging football players to be aware of the risks associated with repeated trauma to the head. “I hope this is a wake-up call to high-profile current and former NFL players that CTE is rampant among them, and they need to get involved in creating real solutions,” stated Dr. Chris Nowinski.
Nowinski added, “CTE should be their No. 1 off-the-field issue.”
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