Bryan Bickell diagnosed with multiple sclerosis

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/players/3814/" data-ylk="slk:Bryan Bickell">Bryan Bickell</a> of the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/teams/car/" data-ylk="slk:Carolina Hurricanes">Carolina Hurricanes</a> skates for position off a face against the Philadephia Flyers on October 30, 2016 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Getty Images)
Bryan Bickell of the Carolina Hurricanes skates for position off a face against the Philadephia Flyers on October 30, 2016 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Getty Images)

Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The team sent out a release announcing that the forward, who was acquired last summer in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, will take some time off to figure out his next steps medically and in his career.

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“First and foremost, the most important thing is for Bryan to take care of himself and our thoughts are with him and his family,” general manager Rob Francis said. “He will need to take some time to rest in the immediate future, and we will support him as he takes the necessary steps for his health. We ask that his privacy be respected during the process.” 

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The 30-year-old Bickell had struggled with health issues since the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs when he missed time with what he believed was vertigo. Bickell said since that point he had been trying to figure out lingering health issues.

“Since the 2015 playoffs, I’ve been struggling to understand what was going on with my body. Again during the past few weeks, it felt like something wasn’t right,” Bickell said. “Obviously this is a bit of shock for my family and me, but I am hopeful I will be able to return to the ice and continue playing the game that I love.”

Here is the Mayo Clinic’s definition of multiple sclerosis:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).

 

In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause the nerves themselves to deteriorate or become permanently damaged.

 

Signs and symptoms of MS vary widely and depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. Some people with severe MS may lose the ability to walk independently or at all, while others may experience long periods of remission without any new symptoms.

 

There’s no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage symptoms.

Bickell had one goal in seven games this season with the Hurricanes. Last season he had two assists in 25 games with the Blackhawks. He also spent 47 games in the AHL with Rockford where he had 15 goals and 31 points in 47 games. Bickell is in the final season of a four-year, $16 million contract signed after he helped the Blackhawks to the 2013 Stanley Cup with 17 points in 23 games.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in late 2012. After the announcement, Harding played 34 NHL games before his career ended.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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