Ex-NHL Enforcer is a Threat to Himself

Reported on: June 1, 2016

Following a recent charge of arson, Stephen Peat, former NHL enforcer, has finally sought public attention regarding his constant struggle with concussion symptoms including, intense headaches, anxiety, memory loss, depression, day-to-day negligence, and overall physical pain since leaving his hockey career.

The “Enforcer” is a term you hear frequently while watching Ice Hockey. In the NHL, this term is given to the “tough guy” or “fighter” of the team. One whose main responsibility is to deal with the dirty, oftentimes violent acts done by the opposing team by means of harsh physical contact i.e. punches to the head region.

Since 2010, six enforcers have died before reaching the age of 50 including: Bob Probert, Derek Boogard, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak, Steve Montador, and Todd Ewen. Studies have shown that the major cause of these tragic deaths point to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Referred to as CTE, this degenerative brain disease is caused by repetitive trauma or force to the head. Moreover, CTE is most unique in that it can only be detected once the victim has suffered and died from it.

Stephen Peat admits to the New York Times that he suffers with addiction and drug abuse due to his symptoms most likely derived from his years as one of the most successful enforcers in the NHL. Unable to pin point the root cause of his pain, Peat suffers on a daily basis with the symptoms that many of his teammates have consequently died from already. 

For further detail: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/02/sports/hockey/stephen-peat-nhl-enforcer-concussions-cte-health.html


[neuroFit commentary  2/4/2017]   While a diagnosis of CTE can only currently be made post-mortem, mounting evidence highlights CTE as a pressing public health concern.  As described in the excellent NYT article, athletes who play impact sports (e.g., football, hockey, rugby) at high levels for prolonged periods are at risk for developing behavioral symptoms consistent with CTE.  In fact, oculomotor methods are beginning to show chronic effects of mild TBI that are not detectable with conventional neurocognitive tools.  By focusing on measurement of neurological performance, and detection of the signs of both the acute and chronic signs brain injuries, novel technologies for brain health assessment may help mitigate the long-term risks associated with impact events.       



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