OSKALOOSA, Iowa -- Four months after the death of former Hawkeye star and professional football player, medical experts say Tyler Sash had a degenerative brain injury caused by repeated trauma.
Sash died at the age of 27 from accidental mixed drug toxicity, an autopsy found. He was found in his Oskaloosa home on Sept. 8, 2015.
Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine found Sash had an advanced degree of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It has been found in dozens of former NFL players, however, experts say the stage of Sash's CTE is rarely seen for someone his age.
A local brain injury specialist said it can take between 15 and 25 years for symptoms to show, and CTE can be caused by injuries other than concussions.
“It can even be just hits to the head that don’t cause concussions, so it’s mild accumulation of traumatic brain injuries,” said Dr. Mary Beth Russell, an osteopathic doctor at Mercy Medical Center’s brain and spine center.
In October, the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office said tests were being conducted to determine whether the disease was detected in Sash’s brain. The results of those tests were released to Sash's family just recently.
Sash was a former Giants safety and played only two years in the NFL. He appeared in 37 games at Iowa. NBC Sports reports that Sash had at least five concussions in his lifetime: two in high school, one in college and two in the NFL.