Studying the link between brain disease and contact sports including hockey
Former National Hockey League players suing the league over head injuries asked the Minnesota federal judge handling their multidistrict litigation on Monday to ignore the NHL’s privacy concerns and order 23 teams to provide documents on every player who’s suffered a concussion during play.
The players rejected the NHL’s stance that the documents are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, state privacy laws and collective bargaining agreements, telling the court that the documents will prove that the head injuries the players’ sustained over the course of their careers put them at a higher risk for serious neurological disorders.
In affidavits unsealed yesterday in a class action lawsuit brought against the league by former players, BU neuroscientists Robert Stern and Ann McKee argued that giving the league the records would compromise both their ongoing research and the privacy of the players and families involved. The affidavits were first reported on yesterday by Rick Westhead of the Canadian sports network TSN. The NHL first subpoenaed the documents in September 2015.
Stern and McKee, a neuropsychologist and a neuropathologist, respectively, at BU’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center, have studied the brains of former professional athletes, including hockey players, and are currently using MRI imaging to study scores of living National Football League and college football players in a large study funded by the National Institutes of Health. They say that assurances that players’ privacy will be protected are essential for the success of that $16 million study.