Former NFL running back and Ohio State star Chris "Beanie" Wells said Monday during 97.1 The Fan's The Tim and Beanie Show that he recently underwent an MRI after experiencing headaches and issues with his speech and memory.
"I have some plaque separation," he told his co-host Tim Hall (h/t Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com). "And when you have that plaque separation, it shows that you experienced some sort of traumatic brain injury. Obviously that traumatic injury for me would come from playing football. Not only that. They had some cells tacked on to that separated plaque that I needed to get under control."
"I'm still not out of the woods yet, but it's coming," he added. "I'm hopeful."
Wells, 29, spent four seasons in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals, rushing for 2,471 yards and 24 touchdowns in 51 total games. He emerged as a top prospect at Ohio State in his sophomore season, rushing for 1,609 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, though he never experienced that level of success in the NFL. That said, he did rush for 1,047 yards and 10 touchdowns in the 2011 campaign.
The main culprit for the short length of his career was a number of injuries, including a torn Achilles tendon.
In the present day, however, Wells is most concerned with any potential brain trauma suffered during his NFL career.
"When you start to feel a little bit indifferent upstairs, it scares you," Wells said. "So you want to go and get that checked out, and it was going on for about six or seven months. I'm just glad at this point in time I have an answer for it, and I'm addressing getting it squared away."
Brain trauma and concussions continue to be major issues for the NFL and the game of football in general. A 2017 study by neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee, for instance, discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of 110 out of 111 deceased former NFL players.
Diagnosing and treating brain injuries remains complicated. CTE, for instance, cannot be diagnosed in living brains despite promising scientific advances in that area of research. And there is research being conducted on medications or treatments that would help the brain heal itself after suffering a concussion, as B/R's Mike Tanier outlined in Sept. 2017.
For now, however, treating many brain injuries remains an inexact science.