â†µReggie Fleming was a journeyman in the NHL, playing 12 seasons for a host of teams and having an altogether average career from the late '50s to early '70s. Following a report from Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Fleming may become a household name 35 years after his career ended, as reports have linked Fleming's brain to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a disease that results in progressive degeneration of the brain tissue that can result in memory loss, confusion, paranoia, depression and dementia. While the researchers won't go so far to say this, a clear case can be made for adding death to that list as well. Fleming died in July at the age of 73. â†µâ†µ
â†µCTE is triggered by head trauma, most notably multiple concussions, and has been linked to boxers since the 1920s. More recently, CTE has been linked to both professional, and for the first time in October, college football players. Fleming is the first reported case of a former NHL hockey player linked to the disease. â†µâ†µ
â†µâ‡¥"Boxing we've known for a long time, football we've recently become aware of - now hockey," Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at Boston University who also diagnosed CTE in the former football players, told the New York Times. "Repetitive head injuries can have very serious long-term consequences, regardless of how you get them." â†µâ†µA big issue with CTE is that the onset can begin to change the brain just months after trauma, or years or even decades later. So far, research has indicated that there is no window for former athletes to avoid. â†µ
â†µSome in the NHL have been facing the issue with concussions head on, if you pardon the pun. This year, Hall of Famer Mark Messier teamed up with the company Cascade in a venture called â†µThe Messier Project, promoting a new style of helmet that reportedly diffuses the blow to a player's head differently than past helmets. From an August report on Puck Daddy: â†µâ†µ
â†µâ‡¥Equipment like the new M11 helmet offers a streamlined design and compression to absorb impacts. It uses "Seven Technology," described by Cascade as "providing the protection of two helmets in the space of one - one for catastrophic hits and one for concussions." â†µâ‡¥â†µThe NFL has similar helmet technology to help avoid concussions and with the rash of head injuries this season, more attention than ever has been placed on the seriousness of long-term damage due to repeated head trauma. â†µ
â†µâ‡¥Messier said the technology "immensely reduces the risk of concussions by distributing the blunt blow to the head," likening the overall design of the helmet to that of a motorcycle rider's. â†µâ‡¥â†µ
â†µWhile the NHL has no official comment on the Boston University report until they've reviewed it, the fact that this AP story appeared on NHL.com's news feed is a transparent step in the right direction. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.