Chris Pronger, former captain of the Philadelphia Flyers suffers from severe headaches since two head injuries he suffered on the ice 18 months ago. Brian Cazeneuve, a writer for Sports Illustrated recently reported on his progress – the following is part of his article.

Pronger could once command a room with a presence befitting one of the game’s most dominating players. He was uncommonly gifted and menacing, the first defenseman since Bobby Orr to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP. Today a room commands Pronger. It compels the man once accustomed to being in the spotlight to dim the lights and to be mindful of what he cannot see in his shrinking field of vision. Once fueled by the roar of 18,000 fans, he sometimes winces at the screech of a child. “Headaches, headaches, headaches,” he says. “It takes nothing to get me to sensory overload.”

Since his injuries, however, Pronger hasn’t been close to the same. He failed his ImPact Test (used by the NHL to evaluate players after they take a hit to the head) once he returned to Philadelphia from Winnipeg, and spent the next five days gazing into a fog while getting three to four hours  of sleep a night. The man who could seemingly see everything – was suddenly too sensitive to light and sound to engage with his family. Instead of playing on the trampoline with his kids, he’d toss them a baseball until his arm movements made him nauseous or dizzy. His wife, Lauren, “became the family rock, my referee,” he says, “explaining to the kids why Dad can’t play the same way anymore.”

Though the NHL doesn’t release concussion numbers, it has tried to stem a rising tide of head injuries in the last three years – some to stars such as Sydney Crosby – by making significant rule changes, including penalties for blind-side hits and suspensions for hits targeting the head. Pronger feels that the onus for solving hockey’s concussion problems is not all on the NHL. He wants players to look out for themselves by talking about symptoms and protecting themselves on the ice.

Yet Pronger insists that you skip the pity. “Other people have it a lot worse, he says. “I’m here, right? I’ll be fine.” At this he offers proof. “You wouldn’t know it,” he says, “but I got a headache just talking to you.” Then he flashes his mischievous gap-toothed grin; his gamesmanship is now therapy.”You always do that to people, don’t you?”   Sports Illustrated      April 22, 2013

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