Tag: CTE

Sidney Crosby

Primeau calls Crosby “ambassador for people who have brain injuries”


Keith Primeau — 14-year NHLer and outspoken advocate for concussion prevention — is praising Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby for displaying courage and foresight in the face of his latest concussion setback.

“Crosby is an ambassador for people who have brain injuries and who have endured head trauma,” Primeau told the Tribune-Review. “People are looking up to his courage as we speak.”

Primeau was forced into retirement at age 34 after suffering a series of concussions (four of them documented). Now 39, Primeau still struggles daily with the after-effects — he told the Canadian Press in November that exertion and exercise makes him lightheaded.

As such, Primeau is now the driving force behind stopconcussions.com, a website he co-founded. It’s designed to heighten awareness about baseline testing, post-concussion syndrome, CTE and more.

In speaking about Crosby, Primeau appreciated the patience and caution shown by No. 87 when he didn’t feel well following Monday’s loss to Boston. Professional athletes don’t always put their health first, according to Primeau.

“For me and my quest, seeing Sidney do the right thing is special,” he said. “The culture we’re brought up in with the hockey world just tells us to play through injuries. That may seem like courage, but it really isn’t.

“This is an injury that can be debilitating. The fact is, Sidney had the courage to speak up when something wasn’t right. Good for him. Maybe people don’t realize it, but that’s a true sign of courage. It really is.”

Bettman says it’s too early to link CTE to fighting

Derek Boogaard

Not all of the news coming out of the Board of Governors meeting in Pebble Beach has revolved around realignment. In addition to the well-publicized conference shuffling, Gary Bettman discussed a much more important topic on the second day of the meetings in California. Today, the NHL commissioner was discussing the New York Times article that revealed that yet another former NHL player had been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

It’s not surprising that Bettman was confronted with plenty of questions in the wake of the Times series of articles this week. But even as former players are being diagnosed, the league insists that it’s too soon to make any assumptions.

From QMI Agency: “Do you know everything that went on in their lives?” asked Bettman. “Were there other things going on which could also cause CTE? The data is not sufficient to draw a conclusion. Our experts tell us the same thing. You don’t have a broad enough database to make that assumption or conclusion because you don’t know what else these players might have had in common, if anything.”

But that wasn’t all Bettman had to say. He insists that the league has been ahead of the curve with head injuries and continues to look for ways to keep their players safe. “Look at our history,” Bettman told USA Today’s Kevin Allen. “Starting in 1997, we’ve been all across all fronts, whether it was the working study group, baseline testing, diagnosis and return-to-play protocol, rule changes and creation of the department of player safety, we’ve been doing lots and lots and will continue to do lots and lots. But there are no easy answers yet. But I think it’s unfortunate that people use tragedies to jump to conclusions that probably at this stage aren’t supported.”

The problem for the league and its decision makers is that there isn’t an easy fix even if CTE is positively linked to the NHL. It’s easy to say that fighting would eliminate the degenerative brain risk, but Rick Martin wasn’t a fighter and he was diagnosed with CTE earlier this year.

No matter what rule changes are put in place, hockey is a fast-paced, violent game. “Even if it’s a legal hit, it can lead to a concussion,” Bettman said. “We play a very fast-paced, physical game in a close environment. I think people need to take a deep breath and not overreact. It’s important to react and it’s something we’ll monitor closely.”

Nobody wants any of the players to have to endure mental or physical injuries that linger well past their playing career. The league may be slow to admit there is very likely a link between NHL hockey and CTE, but it’s true that there isn’t a quick fix to prevent players from potentially dealing with the disease.

The best news: it’s an issue that is getting mentioned at one of the most important meeting of the year. The first step is admitting there may be a problem. Once the issue is officially on the docket, the Board of Governors can take a look at possible solutions.

Report: Derek Boogaard dealt with issues related to Alzheimer’s disease

Derek Boogaard

A sad and stunning New York Times report reveals that studies of Derek Boogaard’s brain provided evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is described as “a degenerative brain ailment related to Alzheimer’s disease that is caused by repeated blows to the head.”

One of the report’s most disturbing findings was that the disease was more pronounced in Boogaard (who died at age 28 and played in parts of six NHL seasons) than Bob Probert (who died at age 45 and played in parts of 16 NHL seasons). Dr. Ann McKee – one of the leading researchers – had this to say after studying Boogaard’s brain.

“To see this amount? That’s a ‘wow’ moment,” McKee said. “This is all going bad.”

It’s tough to argue with that point.