June 17, 2012

Steve Ludzik Battling Parkinson's Disease

Former NHL player and head coach and Steve Ludzik has announced he is ill with Parkinson's Disease. Barry Rozner of the Chicago Daily Herald has an excellent piece on Ludzik's story, including this snippet of speculation as to how hockey may have contributed to Ludzik's illness:
Right away, there was speculation about how Ludzik wound up with Parkinson's, which can be genetic but is almost certainly in Ludzik's case due to the scores of hits to the head he absorbed in decades of playing hockey.

“People who want to say this is from fighting are clueless,” Ludzik said. “I don't give a (bleep) what they think. I only fought (22) times in 10 years and I never got clocked. I never caught anyone good, either.

“This is from getting hit in the head. The constant banging wore me down. It's like being in bumper cars for years without stopping.

“My guess is I had about six concussions, and you never said anything because you didn't want to lose your job. You'd find out later from the guys that when you got to the bench you couldn't say your name, and then you had a headache for a week and couldn't eat anything.”
Whether the accusation that hockey may have led to Parkinson's disease is almost irrelevant. Assuming there is the medical possibility that hockey could do that is pretty scary stuff.

It is great to see Ludzik battling this scary illness with such courage and dignity. Hockey will always be a part of his life (he continues to do TV and radio and has written a book), but he plans on doing everything in his power to help as many Parkinson's sufferers as he can.
“That will be what people remember me for, not for hockey or TV or anything else.

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