Devils veteran Ben Lovejoy will be the first active NHL player to donate his brain to CTE research.
Devils veteran Ben Lovejoy will be the first active NHL player to donate his brain to CTE research, he announced Thursday.
The 33-year-old defenseman has pledged to give his brain to Boston University and the Concussion Legacy Foundation’s brain bank upon his death.
“Hockey has been so good to me. Hockey has helped me make a ton of friends, travel the country and the world, get into an Ivy league school, and has given me an amazing job that has paid me really well for 11 years,” Lovejoy said in a statement. “For 33 years now, my life has revolved, almost exclusively, around hockey. I have pledged to donate my brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation to give back to the sport that has given me so much, with the hope that it can continue to get safer.”
While the discussion around CTE and the long-term effects of brain trauma focuses on football and the NFL, scientists are also eager to study the brains of hockey players. The problem is that NHL players have been reluctant to donate their brains to science. Lovejoy hopes to change that.
“I’m spoiled to have done this for so long,” he told TSN. “I’ve had teammates who are superstars and others who are minor-league role players who have struggled, missed time, and ended careers because of concussions. I want to do anything I can to help.”
There have been 19 brains of hockey players donated to BU’s lab. All six of the NHL players tested were found to have CTE, as well as four junior hockey players who committed suicide before the age of 30. Dr. Ann McKee of BU, the nation’s leading CTE researcher, told ESPN in August that it’s possible “hockey players have less CTE or a milder CTE,” though she needs to more brains to study before she can reach a more solid conclusion.