The Dangers of Brain Trauma

Posted on August 10, 2017

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Derek Boogaard was an enforcer for the Minnesota Wild and the New York Rangers of the NHL. During his career, spanning from junior hockey in Canada through his last concussion in 2010 after a fight with Matt Carkner of the Ottawa Senators, Boogaard was involved in 184 fights. The number of actual concussions that he sustained is uncountable, though the physical damage and the mental damage is glaringly obvious.

He suffered from an addiction to prescription painkillers as well as alcoholism in an attempt to get the pain of his concussion to go away. Unfortunately, a combination of the two lead to his death on May 13, 2011. His parents asked that his brain be donated to the Boston University School of Medicine for further research in helping people understand the personality changes that are part and parcel with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This degeneration of the brain is caused by repeated trauma and concussions. Several notable athletes’ families have donated their loved ones’ brains to this center for further study.

Football players and hockey enforcers are at the greatest risk of developing this – Derek Boogaard’s family was told that if he had lived to the age of 40, he could very well have suffered from dementia. For Boogaard’s story, and some outstanding video interviews with the scientists who worked to discover the problem (as well as with his family and fellow NHL players), The New York Times has an outstanding three-part series on the Boogeyman.

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