Following the untimely death of NHL enforcer Todd Ewen, his family has decided to donate his brain to the Canadian Sports Concussion Research Project.
Ewen recently passed away after suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Nearly two weeks ago, PBS’ Frontline published new research that found chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE exists in 96% of former NFL players that have been studied.
CTE can lead to memory loss, depression and dementia however, as of now the disease can only be definitively identified after death, according to Frontline. The inability to diagnose the disease in living players is how the NFL justifies its denial of the condition.
“People think that we’re blowing this out of proportion, that this is a very rare disease and that we’re sensationalizing it,” said Dr. Ann McKee, facility’s director and chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System. “My response is that where I sit, this is a very real disease. We have had no problem identifying it in hundreds of players.”
The study Frontline presented was heavily focused on NFL players but hockey players endure a lot of head trauma as well. CTE has already been detected in the brains of five late former NHL players. As evidence of CTE continues to come to the forefront, the NHL has already seen nearly five dozen lawsuits filed by ex-players.
One case last year argued that the NHL knew about the extended damage head injuries could cause but didn’t make efforts to adequately inform players or protect them, according to The Huffington Post.
Research must continue in order to come to a definitive understanding of the relationship between hockey hits and CTE. By donating Todd’s brain, the Ewen family has offered to contribute to said research.
The Canadian Sports Concussion Research Project now has a total of 19 former athletes’ brains including football and hockey players, The Hockey News reports.
Although the NFL has revised some of its safety rules in an effort to minimize head-to-head hits, the league still sweeps the severity of the disease under the rug without properly educating players on how it can affect them and it appears the NHL is also endangering players.