Steve Ludzik blames hockey for his Parkinson's disease

Bruce Bennett

A former NHL player believes hockey is to blame for his having Parkinson's disease.

Steve Ludzik believes that his hockey career, which included a nine-year stint in the NHL, is responsible for his having Parkinson's disease. The 52-year-old told the National Post that his doctors don't disagree.

"They say they can’t prove it, and they can’t not prove it," Ludzik said. "But it’s likely this is from damage to the head."

Ludzik said he started experiencing symptoms from the disease in his 30s. Now he has a slight tremor in his hand and his 20-pill cocktail makes it difficult for him to sleep more than three or hour hours a night.

Head trauma has been linked to Parkinson's disease, and Ludzik says he suffered at least six concussions while playing in the NHL. That number is likely higher, too, Ludzik concedes. Concussions and head injuries were not monitored the way they are now, leading him to believe that he suffered more, but was not aware that he was concussed.

Since being diagnosed, Ludzik has worked to remove hitting from minor hockey. In his opinion, it shouldn't be a part of the game until kids are 13 or 14 years old, something Hockey Canada recently moved to do. Now, kids in Canada will not start bodychecking until they are 13 years old.

The NHL has made some reforms to try and keep players healthier, including banning blindside hits and any hits where the head is targeted or the principal point of contact.

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