HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Health professionals are taking a second look at the dangers of baseball after an autopsy revealed the first major league player diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE has been documented among pro football players, but the autopsy of former professional baseball player Ryan Freel, who took his own life a year ago, revealed the first documented case for the MLB.
The diagnosis can only be determined after death by testing brain tissue.
While the cause isn't exactly known, continued hits to the head are thought to be the cause.
Dr. Thomas Weber, the head of sports medicine with RMH said the key is teaching safe play from the start.
"First thing is having helmets that fit properly. Making sure that practices are safe, so kids don't get hit with foul balls. And feet first are going to be better than head first slides," said Weber.
Hard hitting collisions at home plate could soon be banned by Major League Baseball. Those kind of collisions are permitted at the college level, but not any earlier.
© Copyright 2014 WHSV / Gray Television Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.