CTE=Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy
Or for people like me, degenerative brain disease.
Scientists think there is a link between CTE and concussions. Steve Montador, who played most recently for the Chicago Blackhawks and the Buffalo Sabres, had a few concussions during his career, and after his death there were findings that his brain was riddled with CTE. Many scientists believe there might be a link between the two. Research and testing are ongoing, with players in contact sports like hockey and football being examined in the research.
April 20th, 2015
Okay, you might agree with the lawyer. But make no mistake, a lot of the deaths associated with CTE have been associated with past concussions. You don’t have to look far… I have seen players get smacked into the boards at high-speeds. One fell like a rag doll and he couldn’t get up, he kept on falling down on his knees. This is what a concussion looks like. Watching this player was akin to watching a concussion form — and that was witnessed by myself and thousands of others. I am a layperson with no medical experience, but to watch the player try to get up like that… I didn’t need to be a doctor to believe something was wrong with his head, not only in that moment, but possibly for later in life. I don’t have the experience to know that much, but I do know it wasn’t so nice to watch him struggle to get up.
Perhaps there is no true proven, tangible example of the tie between the concussions and CTE, but it is not a huge leap to trust that there might be a link.
You may ask, why the questions?
The answer is that the NHL is being sued by former players and families. The players and grieving families are suing the league for knowing in advance that brain traumas like concussions really do lead to medical problems like CTE, and not taking enough measures to protect the players.
The big question in all of this is: Can a concussion ‘necessarily’ or ‘always’ lead to CTE?
Channeling the lawyer within, Mr. Bettman is trying to set up the defense for the NHL. First by asking professionals if other things can cause CTE, such as depression or other health problems. Scientists will tell you they need more studies. The good news is the NHL has already started to make the game safer for players. All players have baseline testing done, stricter return-to-play protocols have been implemented, there have been changes to the rules making it illegal to check to the head area, and research is being done to to see if equipment can be made safer. Another big step by the league is the formation of the new Department of Player Safety.
Who knows what will happen with the NHL and the court case? Can hockey ever be truly safe?
I believe it can be safer if we start teaching our kids the art of safe icing and high sticking. Or we change the rules and stop all the icing and high sticking. We might teach our kids less physical ways of winning (or losing) a game, and help them to learn better sportsmanship.
We definitely need to teach them that the head is one of the most important parts of the body.