Former AFL star Shane Tuck had a severe case of degenerative brain disease CTE, making him the third AFL player to suffer from the neurological disorder, the Australian Sports Brain Bank has said.
The former Richmond star passed away in July last year at the age of 38 after a long battle with mental health issues.
Tuck’s family agreed to donate his brain to the Brain Bank and it has since been revealed that the AFL star fought the third stage of the CTE.
“This is the worst case I have seen so far,” said neuropathology professor Michael Buckland. Age. “It was actually quite shocking the degree of illness he had.”
CTE is a brain condition associated with repeated concussions, symptoms vary in severity but include memory problems, cognitive function problems and depression which also leads to dementia.
It can only be diagnosed after death. The telltale signs of the disease are the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain. Buckland said the extent of Tuck’s condition was serious.
“Once I got the tau spots back, it was the first time that I didn’t need a microscope to make the diagnosis,” he said. “There was so much tau that I could see it with the naked eye.”
CTE was also found post-mortem in AFL greats Polly Farmer and Danny Frawley, who were both older than Tuck when they died. Farmer was 84 and Frawley 56.
Tuck’s mother Fay said her son recognized that something was wrong with him and went out of his way to find a solution.
“He was smart enough to know there was something wrong with his brain,” she says. “He kept telling us that he didn’t feel like himself. We tried every avenue we could to find out what bothered Shane so much.
“Shane was never aggressive or violent. In fact, he was placid. He wanted to try all the ways he could to help himself, even when he knew nothing would work. He knew he did. was getting worse. There was no medicine that would help him. “
Tuck was originally drafted at Hawthorn but was released in 2002 before relaunching his career with the Tigers after a stint in the SANFL. Tuck then pursued a career in boxing, where he participated in five fights.
Most of the data on CTE comes from the United States, primarily among hockey and grill players. However, recently an English study found CTE in four of six retired football players.
The first Australian to be diagnosed with CTE in 2013 was former NSW Waratahs rugby coach Barry “Tizza” Taylor, whose brain was sent to Boston for analysis.
Tragically, her son Stephen passed away in July of last year, aged 56, and was also found to have CTE. “What’s disturbing about Stephen Taylor is that he gave up rugby at the age of 16,” Buckland said.