Former NFL running back's Lawrence Phillips' brain has been donated to researchers at Boston University for CTE research.
CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is only diagnosed after death, when medical professionals can dissect and examine the brain itself.
- Kern County Coroner: Lawrence Phillip's death declared a suicide
- Former NFL player, Lawrence Phillips found dead in cell; officials suspect suicide
Phillip's mother, Juanita Phillips, made the decision to donate after she was persuaded by the family's attorney, Dan Chamberlain. "I asked for his brain, I know how important it is, to get his brain and Dave Duerson and Junior Seau, Mike Webster," said Chamberlain, listing other NFL players who committed suicide.
Phillips committed suicide last week at Kern Valley State Prison, after a judge determined there was enough evidence to go to trial.
It's undetermined at this time if Lawrence Phillips' criminal past was at all influenced by CTE, but it could be at least six months before researchers come back with a diagnosis.
Little is known about CTE, because it is a relatively young disease in terms of research. Physical manifestations of the disease range from mood swings and headaches to dementia.
"I think the awareness alone is helpful in terms of limiting exposure," said Matt Ashley, neurologist at the Centre for Neuro Skills. Education and awareness key in preventing and learning more about CTE.
Kern County has a consortium for concussion awareness.