Boogaard one of many athletes contributing to study of brain trauma and sport

CALGARY — The decision by Derek Boogaard's family to donate his brain to science is another example of athletes helping the medical world understand the effects of hits to the head.
Boogaard, who was found dead Friday in his Minneapolis apartment, will have his brain sent to a Boston University medical centre that studies chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head trauma.
The 28-year-old Saskatoon native's cause of death has yet to be determined.
In the three years since the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy was established at BU, the brains of 75 deceased athletes (half of them football players) have been analysed, according to co-director Chris Nowinski.
Among the deceased athletes whose brains were analysed were NHL player Bob Probert, who died at 45 last year of a heart attack, and Canadian pro wrestler Chris Benoit, whose killed himself at the age of 40 in 2007.
Nowinski, the main speaker Sunday at a concussion seminar in Calgary, is a former college football player and pro wrestler who suffered multiple concussions during his career.
He wrote "Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis" and is largely credited with bringing attention to CTE and a possible link to repeated head blows suffered by pro athletes in collision sports.
While Nowinski wouldn't comment specifically on Boogaard, he says athletes like him are contributing greatly to understanding the mystery of brain injury.
CTE was once termed "punch drunk" and less than 50 studies were conducted on the subject between 1928 and 2005, he said. Now, 400 athletes still living have committed to donating to the brain bank after their deaths.