By: Ira Sherman
Ryan Freel – a former Major League Baseball utility player who played a majority of his career with the Cincinnati Reds –committed suicide last December. After his death, Freel's family donated his brain to Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and Sports Legacy Institute. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease (a type of chronic brain damage) commonly found in individuals who experienced a history of concussions and head injuries.
Freel's postmortem diagnosis was the first discovered case of CTE in baseball. Many former football players and contact sport athletes have suffered from CTE – most notably Junior Seau, who also committed suicide in 2012. While playing baseball, Freel experienced approximately 9 to 10 reported concussions, including several severe injuries. Both during his career and after, Freel suffered from random headaches and pains in his head, as well as loss of attention, difficulty concentrating, depression, and short-term memory loss – all symptoms of CTE. He also sparked interest after it was reported that he talked to an imaginary voice in his head.
Both Freel's family and the MLB were informed of the findings last week. Last week also marked the MLB's official announcement of a proposed ban on home plate collisions. News of Freel's condition and ongoing scrutiny of head injuries in sports have created new support for the ban and policy changes throughout various sports.
Having represented many injured athletes and brain injury victims throughout the years, Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. empathizes with Freel's family and the numerous other victims who have endured these difficult experiences. We extend our support and legal services to all victims and families. For more information about sports-related injuries and concussions, contact a Washington, DC personal injury attorney from our firm.