Researchers Attempt to Block NHL’s Attempt to Discredit Head Trauma Research

On March 1, 2017, Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University CTE researcher, filed an affidavit with the Minnesota federal courts that she fears the NHL is seeking research materials to discredit the center’s research on the brain disease CTE. Dr. McKee’s affidavit comes on the heels of the NHL’s motion to compel the center to produce their materials related to their research on the degenerative brain disease. The center’s research will be used by NHL players in a proposed class action lawsuit against the NHL for allowing violent gameplay that puts the athletes at risk for repeated head injuries. The research links these repeated head injuries to a higher risk of developing CTE, and the NHL has taken the stance that there is no such definitive link that has been proven as of yet.

Dr. McKee’s affidavit claims that she “fear[s] if the center data [is] given to the NHL, it would not be scrutinized objectively, but rather, will be evaluated with a goal of exploiting immaterial discrepancies with a goal of tarnishing my reputation and that of the center.” The NHL has countered that the materials are necessary to “assess methodology, bias, accuracy or other defects” in the research that will be used against them.

By looking to discredit the research on CTE, the NHL has followed a similar gameplan that was implemented by the NFL up until 2016, when its senior vice president for health and safety, Jeff Miller, acknowledged a link between concussions and CTE. The NHL’s request for research materials includes requests for unpublished data by the center, information on the people who donated their brain’s to the center for research (including those donated on the condition of anonymity), and medical records of the deceased with interview notes that include discussions with their families.

 

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