By Rochelle Bergman
What is happening out on the ice? What is making the players physically sick in their knees, lungs and legs? Can hockey be bad for the player’s health?
The answer: Blood Clots. Blood clots are increasing in the NHL. Is it because of hockey being a contact sport? No one can really say, but it is happening. Players like: goaltender Tomas Vokoun, Tomas Fleischmann from the Florida Panthers and former Philadelphia Flyer/current Chicago Blackhawk Kimmo Timonen are included in this new ‘blood clot’ club.
The first recorded story of this medical problem was 80 years ago. Howie Morenz from the Montreal Canadiens died due to complications of blood clots. He got the clot from a past injury and it must have broke when he hit a side board.
Blood clots can start in the lower limbs like in the legs and they can move in the arteries up to the upper body. They can land near the heart. They stop the flow of blood to the area. It is a serious condition. It is the move that causes the big problems. Most people now a days don’t pass away from the clots. Now, doctors have procedures to undo the clot, then the player rests for a few weeks while taking blood thinners.
Careers are being cut short due to this disorder. Dmitri Yushkvich, a former Toronto Maple Leaf had to stop playing due to clots in 2000. A major difference now is that players are being smarter. They are being more aware of their injuries and causes. They are reading more and asking more questions about their conditions. Players are speaking and sharing their information with each other. Kimmo Timonen was out much of this last season and spent time researching blood clots–now he is called “Dr. Timonen.”
Most athletes do run a higher risk of getting blood clots than the average person. That makes sense. Wow! I just wrote that hockey players are athletes. I never thought of them as athletes like runners, jumpers, swimmers and such. I saw them as players. I guess in some ways they are athletes. To me, athletes never wear lots of protective gear like hockey players. To me there is a couple of different kinds of athletes. One is the kind to play against each other in a solo match. Then there are athletes who play on teams. I never thought of them as individual athletes, have you? I picture them as a group, as players. Am I the only one to picture a group? Back to blood clots!
Some might say that blood clots are part of the intense banging and pushing the players get on the ice. The medical profession is still out on this but, it could play a part. Some are worried about life after hockey. Will they be able to lead a healthy and enjoyable long life when they put down the hockey stick? Only time will tell!