Comprehensive Neuropsychological Study of Living Ex-Pro Hockey Players Shows No Significant Brain Impairment, But High Levels of Emotional, Behavioral, & Cognitive Challenges; Scott Thornton Participates, Worried About His Memory

Researchers at Baycrest Health Sciences' Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, Canada, have reported the most comprehensive neuropsychological study of retired professional ice hockey players to date. They found that the alumni involved in the study, most of whom played in the Nzational Hockey League (NHL), were free from significant brain impairment on objective testing. Yet the players reported a high level of emotional, behavioral and cognitive challenges on questionnaires rating subjective complaints. “The study was published in the the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. The open-access article is titled “Cognitive and Psychosocial Function in Retired Professional Hockey Players.” The ongoing study, which began in 2010, is led by Dr. Brian Levine, neuropsychologist and senior scientist at the Rotman Research Institute and Professor of Psychology and Medicine (Neurology) at the University of Toronto, Both institutions are in Toronrto, Canada. The study focuses on retired professional ice hockey players' cognitive and behavioral functioning in relation to their age, concussion history, and genetic risk. "There has been a lot of attention on repeated concussions and neurodegenerative disease, particularly in post-mortem samples of ex-athletes," says Dr. Levine. "There is a need for more comprehensive assessment of mental and behavioral changes during life. This longitudinal study will allow us to track changes over time to better understand aging and brain health in retired professional athletes." Thirty-three retired professional athletes were tested along with eighteen age-matched healthy males recruited from the community as a comparison group with no history of professional contact sports.
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