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Homelessness Hits Pro Hockey

Workplace injuries are one of the three key factors contributing to 75 percent of homelessness, no matter what the job.

Hockey players who suffer brain injuries severe enough to go through the NHL’s concussion protocol experience a higher rate of professional and financial instability, a new study claims.

A study published this past March in The Journal of Neurotrauma examined over 2,000 NHL players from the 2008-2009 season through 2016-2017.

The study concluded that 64 percent, or 198 of the 309 players who had been through the league’s concussion protocol between 2008 and 2017 were no longer playing in the NHL three seasons later, following their injury. That number grew to 85 percent after five seasons.

The study found that NHLers played an average of 2.1 full seasons after going through concussion protocol for the first time.

The study also revealed that concussed players experienced a mean loss of $390,000 per year in their next contract after their injury.

Sergio Navarro, a graduate medical student at Houston’s Baylor University and one of the study’s authors, said “We have enough (evidence) to allow us to draw a line in the sand and saw here are what the outcomes look like when there are concussions.”

Navarro said the researchers obtained data regarding player contracts, transactions, injury reports, and performance stats from a number of sources including official NHL publications.

Players who had reported concussions were compared to players who didn’t.

Navarro says the players with concussions had a 14 percent chance of playing in the NHL five years after the injury. Players who didn’t have reported concussions had a 43.7 percent chance of being in the NHL five years later.

Another finding of Navarro’s, “Players with concussions are going to have memory issues and dementia and issues 15 to 20 years down the road.”

“But I think,”, Navarro adds, “It hasn’t been as noticed what the shorter-term implications are.”

Some athletes may be compelled to ‘play through the pain’.

The study’s findings “demonstrate a dimmed landscape for the professional NHL player after concussion, whereby an abbreviated career with shorter post-concussion contracts may be expired, in addition to hampered on-the-ice performance and financial loss of more than $380,000 a year.”

“Professional athletes may face competitive or financial pressures that preclude the self-reporting of post-concussed symptoms...Some athletes may be compelled to ‘play through the pain’ for various reasons.”




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