Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hockey fights 'may' increase risk of degenerative brain disease -- Are you not entertained?

Researchers at Boston University say it's important not to over-interpret results from a study of former NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard's brain that show early signs of a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated brain trauma.

"However, based on the small sample of enforcers we have studied, it is possible that frequently engaging in fist fights as a hockey player may put one at increased risk for this degenerative brain disease," said Dr. Robert Cantu, co-director of the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE).

Boogaard's brain showed evidence of early stages of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

The 28-year-old Boogaard died in May of an accidental overdose of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone. His family donated his brain to the Boston University facility for study.

CTE can only be diagnosed by examining brain tissue post-mortem.

In 277 NHL games, Boogaard scored three goals, had 589 penalty minutes and reportedly participated in 61 regular season fights, according to the Boston University report.

He reportedly fought 174 times in pro hockey.

Boogaard had not played since Dec. 9, 2010, due to fight-related injuries, including a reported concussion. more