In the wake of NFL players going into early retirement, former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan hanging up his boots, and the movie Concussion, the focus on CTE is as bright as it has ever been. Former pro wrestler “Big Sexy” Kevin Nash and former women’s soccer player Brandi Chastain both announced that they will donate their brains to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center after their deaths where their brains will be studied for signs of CTE.
What makes this significant is that neither Chastain or Nash played in the NFL, where there have been countless studies on the game and the effects of CTE. Chris Nowinski, another former WWE superstar known as Chris Harvard during his days in the squared circle, is one of the forefathers of brain trauma awareness in the NFL. Nash and Chastain’s brains will go to Nowinski’s Concussion Legacy Foundation.
“‘I went ahead and gave my spinal cord and my brain to the study, and I carry a card in my wallet that [says] my brain and spine goes to them. It’s in my will. Of course, my wife’s aware of it,’” Nash told ESPN in a report.
Nash also told ESPN that scans of his brain have shown abnormalities but that there has been no evidence of brain shrinkage. He also said he has been more emotional in recent years and that he has experienced short-term memory loss but isn’t sure if that is related to prior brain trauma.
Chastain, known famously for kicking the game-winning goal in the 1999 Women’s World Cup, told the New York Times that she shook off a concussion “probably a half-dozen times” during her career, and sometimes experiences short-term memory loss. “There are definitely days when I turn a corner and I’m like, ‘Why did I come into this room?’ I have definitely, from time to time, thought, ‘Hmmm, I wonder if this is connected to the past 40 years of playing sports.’ Soccer wasn’t the only thing I played,” Chastain told the Times. “It’s crossed my mind. I do wonder about the ramifications over the next 20 years when I should be fully functioning and still doing things I like or want to do. I try not to get hung up on those things, because it doesn’t really matter at this point. You just don’t know.”
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