The hockey community is pushing back at a research group’s finding that retired player Rick Martin had early-onset chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) when he died earlier this year of a heart attack at 59. Even though the face of the sport, Sidney Crosby, continues to sit out the aftereffects of his nearly-year-old concussion, and other recent hockey deaths do clearly link in some fashion to contact-induced brain degeneration, doctors and journalists from points north are right to be noting holes in claims by Boston University’s Center for the Study of CTE. To oversimplify only a little, tau protein buildup in brains is like plaque buildup around hearts – further study will surely show that it affects individuals with different intensities and at different rates.
That a debate so narrow should be bogging down general understanding of the sports concussion crisis is a crying shame – and also so unnecessary. Sadly, Chris Nowinski, not long ago one of the great public health advocates of his generation, seems to be devolving into a Concussion Inc. bureaucrat as he stubs his toe in defense of the research turf of Dr. Robert Cantu and colleagues. What we all could really use from Nowinski is a little less “peer review” pomposity and a little more common sense.
CONTINUED TODAY AT BEYOND CHRON, THE SAN FRANCISCO ONLINE NEWSPAPER: