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Mr Hockey Continues To Raise Money For Dementia Research: 83 Year Old Legend Still Makes Appearances
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Mr Hockey Continues to Raise Money for Dementia Research: 83 Year Old Legend Still Makes Appearances

For thirty three years, he was on the ice- very few hockey players today can even dream of matching his professional degree. Gordie Howe, now eighty three, so personified the sport that he was dubbed "Mr. Hockey" and the name still fits him today. Along with his son, Marty, Howe is appearing at games and pro-am tournaments, hoping to raise money for a charity that hits very close to the Howe household, that of dementia research.

Colleen Howe was seventy six years old when she died from a rare from of dementia called Pick's disease. Pick's disease typically causes a number of changes in behavior, mood and then personality as well as profound memory loss, similar to that seen with Alzheimer's disease.

Many in the medical community as well as those that are aware of the hard hitting action on the hockey ice have questioned whether Howe's symptoms, deemed mild to moderate at this point could have originated with a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE which has been linked to people who have suffered multiple head injuries. CTE has been found in the autopsies of dozen of former NFL and NHL players as well as others who have never played any sports. No one counted the number of concussions that hockey players sustained when Howe was playing, so it is not known how many times he has had one. But, Howe's other son, Murray, a radiologist has said that the symptoms his father exhibits did not even start until recent years, around his late seventies. Murray also has said that his symptoms do not fit with the typical symptoms seen in Alzheimer's or Pick's disease.

Howe, who has some difficulty with speaking, no longer makes speeches during his many public appearances. Instead, along with Marty, he shakes hands, signs autographs and gets his pictures taken. Many of Howe's appearances are set up by the Toronto area health organization, Baycrest a part of the University of Toronto. So far, the hockey tournaments and appearances by Howe and others has raised over sixteen million dollars for dementia research.

Doctors feel that Howe's dementia may be related to coronary disease which may have caused small strokes, referred to as transient ischemic attacks, to damage some of the parts of his brain. Physically, the former athlete is in excellent condition and enjoys staying active, doing work around his yard and home as well as walking. His memory problems have caused no changes in personality or behavior.


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