After his tragic death in a car accident last winter, West Virginia doctors have examined the brain of pro football player Chris Henry – and found evidence of head trauma that may be of serious concern to other professional athletes and football players.

In December of 2009, Henry and his girlfriend got into an argument and the former Bengals player jumped into the bed of her truck as she drove away. As the argument continued, Henry fell from the truck and died of his car accident injuries.

Months later, scientists and doctors at the Brain Injury Research Center at West Virginia University have concluded a study of the athlete’s brain. To their surprise, Henry, who was just 26 years old at the time of his death, show clear signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), probably caused by his years of playing football and receiving tackles. The results were especially surprising considering Henry’s age and the fact that he was not a lineman known for taking a large number of hard hits during the game.

In recent years, the NFL has taken steps to research traumatic brain injuries in their players and to educate team leaders and physicians on how player head injuries should be managed and treated. However, many say that they are not doing enough to protect today’s players – who are still getting bigger and stronger with each passing season. Especially since players are apt to hide injuries and play down head trauma to keep playing and keep making money, the NFL still needs to increase its education and awareness plan.