Ex-NFL player involved in mass shooting had CTE, doctor says- so what is it?

Around the South

A York County sheriff’s deputy parked outside a residence where five people were fatally shot on Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Rock Hill, South Carolina; Inset: Former NFL player Phillip Adams, the accused gunman who then turned the gun on himself, AP reports. (Nell Redmond/Mark Zaleski/AP Photo)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A former NFL player who police say shot and killed five people had CTE, according to a doctor at CTE Center at Boston University.

In April, the York County Sheriff’s office said Phillip Adams shot a doctor, his wife and their two grandchildren, and a man working on the home before turning the gun on himself. The killings happened in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Dr. Ann McKee, who examined Adams’ brain said he had severe brain disease in his frontal lobe. McKee said the 20 years he spent playing football “definitely” contributes to a diagnosis of stage 2 CTE. The disease has four stages with stage 4 being the worst.

The NFL player’s family said his mental health had degraded “fast and terribly bad.” McKee said Adams’ case was different from most stage 2 CTE patients in that his was “unusually severe in both frontal lobes.”

It’s believed the condition, short for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, is a result of repeated brain trauma from hits to the head or concussions. Symptoms include aggression, memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, or problems with impulse control. The CTE Center said it could be found in people as young as 17.

The biggest problem with it is it can only be diagnosed after death when a brain can be examined. The CTE Center says there is no known way to use brain imaging methods to diagnose CTE before death. It’s something they’re looking to change. There isn’t a cure for it either.

One of the most known cases of CTE is in the case of another former NFL player, Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez killed himself in April in the jail cell where he was serving a life-without-parole sentence for a 2013 murder. A week before his suicide, Hernandez was acquitted in the 2012 drive-by shootings of two men in Boston.

On April 7, authorities said Adams killed Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69, their two grandchildren, Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, at Dr. Lesslie’s home on Marshal Road. Two HVAC contractors working outside of the Lesslie home, James Lewis, 38, and Robert Shook, 38, were also shot by Adams, investigators said. Lewis died on the scene.

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