Rick Martin’s Brain Latest To Show Damage; Athletes Donate Theirs For Research

Rick Martins brain showed signs of CTE.

Rick Martin, the former Buffalo Sabre who died at age 59 from a heart attack, had brain damage that would have led to “dementia, impulsivity and rage,” researchers say, according to an ABC News report.

The report says Martin’s brain showed clear signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition that often develops as a result of repeated head trauma and resembles Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's disease.

Martin’s brain was studied at Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and then sent to the VA Brain Bank. The brain bank has analyzed 70 athletes’ brains, 50 of which showed signs of CTE, ABC News reports.

Although Martin’s CTE was “relatively mild,” it represents the growingly documented risk of brain injury that athletes face. In response to that risk, more than 500 current and former U.S. athletes have agreed to donate their brains to the VA Brain Bank for research, according to ABC.

"The hope is that now that we know what it is we're dealing with, we can really address with research and basic science how to prevent it, how to slow it down or how to cure it," Dr Ann McKee, director of neuropathology at the Bedford VA Medical Center and co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University told ABC.

“By signing on to this research, they promote their own long-term safety and certainly the safety of future players,” McKee added. CTE progresses slowly “until patients have dementia, disrupted speech and uncoordinated movement,” according to ABC. The recent deaths of several athletes may be linked to brain problems, though that link has not been confirmed in any of the cases. Earlier this year, former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson shot himself in the chest after leaving a note requesting that his brain be donated for research. Also this year, the NHL lost Wade Belak and Rick Rypien to suicides, and Derek Boogaard to a drug overdose. Boogaard’s brain is pending results from the VA Brain Bank.
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