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Derek Boogaard’s family will donate his brain to science to study concussion effects

May 14, 2011, 11:11 PM EST

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Jody Shelley, Derek Boogaard AP

Derek Boogaard‘s shocking death yesterday has the hockey world all suffering from the loss of one of it’s true gentle giants. While the cause of death isn’t immediately known and we won’t find out what happened for perhaps weeks, Boogaard’s family is being proactive in helping science perhaps help figure out the mysteries and damage behind concussions.

While the family is still grieving they’re doing something that the family of Bob Probert also did after his stunning death months ago. The Boogaard family will be donating his brain to science in order to help doctors study the effects of concussions on the brain.

“Derek loved sports and obviously in particular hockey, so we believe Derek would have liked to assist with research on a matter that had affected him later on in his career,” said Ryan Boogaard, 27, who along with younger brother, Aaron, found Derek unconscious and not breathing soon after 6 p.m. Friday.

Boogaard’s brain will be donated to the Sports Legacy Institute, who in 2008 teamed with researchers at Boston University Medical School to advance the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes.

As you might recall, when Bob Probert had his brain donated to science they found he was suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease suffered thanks to continued trauma. With Boogaard’s role as a tough guy on the ice and having suffered a severe concussion this season, it’s worth seeing what years of pounding to the head may have done to his brain.

Depending on what the cause of death is for Boogaard, the NHL may have to zero in even tighter on shots to the head and take a serious look at perhaps eliminating fighting from the game to protect the players. The debate over that will rage on as fighting is believed to be woven into the fabric of the NHL. That’s a battle for another time, however. Here’s to hoping that Boogaard’s brain can help lead to answers being unlocked to the mysteries over concussions.

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