Derek Boogaard had degenerative brain disease linked to head injuries
|The results are in from tests on Derek Boogaard's brain.|
However, that did not close the book on whether Boogaard's legendary fights and multiple concussions may have contributed to his death. Just days after he died, his parents donated his brain to Dr. Ann McKee, whose research on degenerative brain diseases in football players is changing the NFL.
Now, according to a New York Times piece on Boogaard, the results are in and they are alarming.
Boogaard was much beloved during his time as a Wild enforcer, both for his ferocity on the ice and his friendliness with fans. But according to the third part in a series by the Times, that affability noticeably declined in the year leading up to his death. Boogaard became addicted to painkillers and sought treatment in rehab, although he was still buying massive quantities of pills like Oxycodone and Vicodin, and asking brother Aaron to hide them from him. He isolated himself, complained of memory lapses, and began missing important meetings.
Boogaard is not the first hockey enforcer found to suffer the disease in posthumous research. In March of this year, Bob Probert's brain showed the same extensive nerve damage. He, too, had substance abuse issues, but died at a much older age.
Researchers have found the same long-term degenerative damage in the brains of 20 deceased NFL players. Fred McNeill, a former Vikings player, is suffering early-onset dementia and is allowing his brain to be studied while he is still living by scientists in California. He's also suing the Vikings for workman's comp related to his troubles.