Over the last decade, increasing public pressure has forced the NFL to begin taking head injuries and chronic traumatic encephalopathy somewhat seriously. They have enacted waves of new rules and donated millions to research. However, concussions and long-term brain trauma are serious issues for all contact sports and other professional leagues like the NHL have been more reluctant to face the reality of CTE.
Just last year, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman refused to acknowledge any link exists between concussions and CTE – despite significant scientific evidence proving such a link. The league still formally denies the two are related.
Dr. Charles Tator, neurosurgeon and director of the Krembil Neuroscience program at the Canadian Concussion Centre, has personally seen the toll professional hockey can have on brains. He’s diagnosed players with CTE in post-mortem autopsies and believes the condition will only become more common until changes are made in professional hockey.
Tator recently spoke with NPR about how the NHL could begin to better address the effects of repeated concussions and CTE, including potential rule changes and advice on how to change the culture around brain injuries.