Sam Burgess has revealed he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) three years ago while playing in the rugby league.
While further scans subsequently cleared the former NRL star of the degenerative neurological disease, he says he is still at risk of health problems from the repeated blows to the head he suffered in the during his football career.
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The former South Sydney forward and the England international made the revelations when discussing the NRL concussion protocols during Wednesday night’s episode of SAS Australia, as he said, the doctors found “lots of white dots” on his brain.
“I was diagnosed with MS about three years ago,” said Burgess, explaining that he was suffering from “bad headaches” at the time.
âI was back on the training ground, the doctor arrives, the physiotherapist comes running and says: ‘You have been diagnosed with MS from your head scan’.
“I said, ‘What the fuck does that mean? He said to me: ‘You have to leave the field now, I have an appointment with a specialist.
âThe MS specialist cleared me of MS, but warned me that there were obviously some signs that it could lead in that direction. An aerial view looking at my brain, I had lots of white spots on my brain but there is no correlation between collision sport. He said, “We don’t know anything about the brain.”
Burgess now undergoes regular checkups but says he’s not “dirty on the game” after being forced into early retirement at the end of the 2019 season due to a chronic shoulder injury.
âFor me, it opened my eyes to the fact that the brain is complex with contact sports and a lot of research that comes out of it, obviously there are risks,â said Burgess.
âIt was something I took very seriously. I have to get my brain scanned every six months to see if it is degenerating, getting worse or improving.
“I think there is damage in my brain, it showed on the MRI, but would I change anything? I do not know. I’m not dirty on the game. It’s a big deal. “
Concussions in sport have become a huge topic of discussion lately, especially in the codes of Australian football. In the NRL, players who show signs of concussion undergo a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) and if they do not pass the required tests, they are not allowed to return to the field.
Burgess spoke about his personal life on SAS Australia, revealing he had cheated on his wife and confessing to drug problems. In Tuesday night’s episode, the 32-year-old said he was most ashamed of the impact his off-court issues had on his family.
âI had a lot of personal issues that led to alcohol and drugs. It caused my mother a lot of pain. She doesn’t deserve this, she’s a great mom, âsaid Burgess.
âHas caused pain to my three brothers whom I love more than this world.
âAnd on top of that, it kept me from seeing my kids as much as I wanted. And that’s the biggest pain of my life right now.