Dispute Over Aaron Hernandez's Brain Highlights Push for CTE Awareness

The dust-up over the brain of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is over, but the spat raised the continued issue of football and a degenerative brain disorder known as CTE.

With Hernandez's death and his wish to donate his brain to an elite laboratory studying CTE at Boston University in the news, people are asking how many concussions the former tight end suffered while playing for New England, for the University of Florida, and for Bristol Central High School in his native Connecticut.

But it's important to remember that it isn't the number of concussions that leads to CTE, it's the number of sub-concussive hits — those smaller, repetitive hits where the damage accumulates over years.

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CTE is marked by memory loss, aggression and depression. A number of former NFL players, including former Hall of Famer and former Patriot Junior Seau, have committed suicide. After donating their brains for testing, they were posthumously diagnosed with CTE.

There is no test to diagnose a living person for CTE. It is only diagnosed after a person has died and the brain examined.

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