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Rugby: Former New Zealand mainstay Carl Hayman is diagnosed with early-onset dementia at the age of 41.

Former New Zealand player Carl Hayman is diagnosed with early-onset dementia at the age of 41 after years of ‘constant headaches’ and joined a class action lawsuit by former rugby players amid a worrying rise in brain injuries.


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Former New Zealand player Carl Hayman has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia at the age of 41, highlighting concussion-related diseases in former rugby players.

Hayman, who played the last of his 45 events at the 2007 World Cup, revealed to New Zealand sports website ‘The Bounce’ that he had also been diagnosed with probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

‘I spent several years thinking that I was going crazy. At one point that’s really what I was thinking, ” Hayman said.

Former New Zealand mainstay Carl Hayman has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia

“It was the constant headaches and all these things that I couldn’t understand.”

Hayman, whose playing career ended six years ago with French club Toulon, battled alcohol abuse in recent years and received a suspended prison sentence in France in 2019 after admitting domestic violence charges.

He has joined a class action lawsuit being prepared by former players alleging that rugby federations, including the world governing body World Rugby, failed to protect them from the risks of a concussion.

Many former rugby players have been diagnosed with permanent brain damage, early-onset dementia, depression, or symptoms and signs of CTE, which can only be diagnosed after death.

He has joined a class action lawsuit by 70 former players, including Michael Lipman.

He has joined a class action lawsuit by 70 former players, including Michael Lipman.

Lipman suffered 30 concussions in his career

Lipman suffered 30 concussions in his career

Hayman joined a class action lawsuit by 70 former rugby players, including Michael Lipman, who suffered 30 concussions during his career and now has mild dementia at 40.

Hayman thought he was 'going crazy' with constant headaches before having a brain test

Hayman thought he was 'going crazy' with constant headaches before having a brain test

Hayman thought he was ‘going crazy’ with constant headaches before having a brain test

World Rugby has introduced stricter concussion protocols in recent years and in July said it would partner with independent health experts, unions and players’ associations to offer brain health care to former players as part of a new wellness plan.

Hayman said he had hesitated before accepting offers to have his brain examined for damage.

“ I was out there for about 12 months about whether I would do something about it and find out if something was wrong with me, or if I would just get on with my life and hope for the best, ” he said. .

“It would be pretty selfish of me not to talk and talk about my experience when I could help a guy in New Zealand who maybe doesn’t understand what’s happening to him and doesn’t have a support network to lean on.”

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