Former NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard’s suffered from a degenerative brain disease linked to Alzheimer’s, possibly caused by the vicious blows he endured to the head, according to a New York Times report.
When Boogaard died, his family donated his brain to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University’s School of Medicine for examination to “unlock the answers of his life and death.”
Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment he shared with his brother Aaron on May 13. A subsequent toxicology report showed Percocet, OxyContin and Oxycodone in Derek’s bloodstream along with alcohol.
The report said that Boogaard had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, commonly known as CTE, a close relative of Alzheimer’s disease. It is believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head. It can be diagnosed only after death, but scientists say it shows itself in symptoms like memory loss, impulsiveness, mood swings, even addiction.
According to the report, scientists told the Boogaard family in Regina that they were shocked to see so much damage in someone so young. Had Derek Boogaard lived, they said, his condition likely would have worsened into middle-age dementia.
At 28, the NHL enforcer was feared on the ice, with his pugilistic talents earning the nickname Boogeyman.
Before his death, Boogaard spent several weeks in treatment for an addiction to prescription drugs.
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