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NHL facing accusations of negligence in brain injury suit

We have written several times in the past about the dangers associated with contact sports and the risk of concussions and traumatic brain injuries. In recent years, this has been a growing concern as professional athletes speak out about the harm to their neurological systems during their time on the field.

This is a concern for players, their families, and parents of children who are pursuing sports like football and hockey at school. These sports have been associated with hard hits to the head, which can lead to concussions, which can in time result in a traumatic brain injury. Research has also shown a high correlation between these brain injuries and a condition known as CTE that causes depression, mood swings, memory problems, and sometimes suicidal thoughts.

CTE has been considered a culrpit in several recent deaths of former professional athletes. In particular, the family of former NHL player Derek Boogaard says that the repeated head trauma the player experienced contributed directly to his eventual death, which occurred via drug overdose. 

The wrongful death lawsuit that his family filed against the NHL says that during a single season, physicians, trainers, dentists, and other staff provided him with more than forty perscriptions for pain medications for a total of over 1,000 pills. They say that under the medical supervision of team doctors he took up to ten pain pills each day, instead of dealing with the very real injuries he had sustained in his job as an "enforcer". 

As with the thousands of brain injury lawsuits currently pending against the NFL, this suit claims that the league knew it that the player was at risk but that they did not act to help him or to warn him of the dangers of his job. If the league had taken proper steps to provide the player with appropriate medical treatment for his head injuries on the ice and his subsequent substance abuse, he may not have died of an overdose, according to the lawsuit. 

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Derek Boogaard's Family Sues NHL for Death” Jack Bouboushian, May 15, 2013.

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