The NHL Alumni Association (NHLAA) announced on Saturday that it will be partnering with Canopy Growth, a Canadian cannabis company, for a health research initiative.
Researchers will be investigating the effects of some cannabis compounds as a treatment method for diseases connected to concussions in former NHL players.
“As we continue to break new ground, push for increasing understanding as a medicine, we feel it is necessary for ourselves to step up and advance research in this space,” Dr. Mark Ware, the Chief Medical Officer of Canopy Growth, said during an event in Toronto.
“We know that many athletes are already self-medicating with cannabis and its derivatives in an attempt to reduce both the physical and emotional consequences of head injury.”
The research study will be led by NEEKA Healthcare Canada’s Dr. Amin Kassam, who is a neurosurgeon.
“We have seen the debilitating effects of chronic repeated head injuries on the lives of patients and their families,” Kassam said.
“Our team is excited … to demonstrate the immense and unexplored opportunity in cannabis-based remedies.”
Approximately 100 former NHL players will be enrolled in the double-blind study which is expected to begin in the summer of 2019, and take one year to complete.
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The study will look at the effects of certain marijuana compounds combined with other proven treatments in an attempt to improve the cognitive ability of former players suffering from the effects of concussions.
It will specifically look at the CBD component of marijuana, which does not cause intoxicating effects and has been used to treat other medical conditions.
“To me this is hope and this is help for players,” said Glenn Healy, the executive director of the NHL Alumni Association.
“We thank the members of the NHLAA whose willingness to join this unique research partnership speaks to the need for alternative medical treatments to treat the long-term and often devastating effects of concussions,” Healy said.
Between 1.6 and 3.8 million athletes suffer from sports-related concussions each year, according to Clinics in Sports Medicine.
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An estimated 10 to 15 per cent of those athletes go on to develop post-concussion symptoms that affect their ability to function.
The list of potential impacts include the development of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and dementia.