Posted on April 26, 2013 · Posted in Brain Injury

Here’s a provocative question: Did Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev sustain brain damage during his amateur boxing days that prompted his horrific actions?

Two co-founders of the Center for the Study of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University are calling for special tests to be performed on Tsarnaev’s brain to see it if showed signs of that degenerative brain disease, The Boston Globe reported Sunday.

Sadly, these two trailblazers of the study of brain damage in football and hockey players — Dr. Robert Cantu and Dr. Robert Stern — both have friends and family who were hurt in the two bomb blasts set off at the finish line of the race.

While the two doctors told The Globe that they actually doubted that CTE was a factor in Tsarnaev’s actions, they added that authorities would be “remiss” if they didn’t do the special tests on his brain. He was killed in a gunfight with police as he tried to elude capture.

Tsarnaev was 26, and he had been boxing since he was a child, according to The Globe. And he was good at it, winning regional titles in the Golden Gloves and going to a national championship in 2009.

Boxers are the first athletes where it was generally common knowledge that they suffered brain damage from their sports, hence the term “punch drunk.” This dementia pugilistica was in fact CTE.

Studies today show that CTE causes depression, changes in personality, memory loss, emotional instability and lack of impulse control, The Globe pointed out.

Those who knew Tsarnaev claim that he was acting oddly in the past few weeks, and at one point he was charged with physically abusing his wife, the newspaper reported.

That said, Cantu and Stern maintained that the premeditation involved in the bombings “did not the profile of a patient with CTE,” according to The Globe.

I think these researchers are right: The special, and expensive, tests to detect CTE should be performed on Tsarnaev’s brain. Anything that can provide some possible into his actions would be useful.




About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447