12/19/2011 12:11 EST | Updated 02/18/2012 05:12 EST

Ban Fighting In Hockey, Medical Journal Urges


Fighting in hockey should be stopped because it leads to head trauma that causes progressive brain damage, says an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

"The tragic story of Sidney Crosby's layoff due to concussions has not been sufficient for society to hang its head in shame and stop violent play immediately," Dr. Rajendra Kale, a neurologist and Interim editor of the CMAJ, wrote in an editorial in the journal’s Monday issue online.

Kale says that a ban should be imposed on all forms of intentional head trauma based on new research from the Boston University School of Medicine that shows the presence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of prominent hockey players Rick Martin, Reggie Fleming and Bob Probert.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease, causes memory problems, changes in personality and mood, Parkinson-like symptoms and changes in speech and gait.

Kale cites 2009 research from the same Boston University researchers that revealed CTE in 50 of 70 athletes studied.

"The simple message from the work done by McKee and colleagues is that the brain does not tolerate repeated hits," he writes.

The editorial, "Stop the violence and play hockey," calls on doctors to support a ban and “endorse deterrent penalties in hockey.”

While he acknowledges that hockey fans may take issue with a sport that is less exciting following such a ban, Kale cites the ban on smoking, which has not reduced the number of people frequenting bars and restaurants:

“Instead, the rates of admission to hospital for heart attacks and lung diseases decreased," he writes.

"Should we not stop the violence now and get on with the main objective of hockey, which is scoring goals?" says Kale.