Michelle Akers, Navy SEAL Jason Redman lead record-breaking surge in female and military brain donation pledges to the Concussion Legacy Foundation
CLF now has more than 6,000 brain pledges; VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank up to 834 donated brains.
(BOSTON) – The Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) announced today the results of a record-breaking year for its research registry, highlighted by the largest ever gains for military and female brain pledges. The announcement comes during the first week of CLF’s Brain Pledge Month, where all individuals regardless of brain trauma history are encouraged to contribute to research by making the #MyLegacyPledge.
CLF recently launched Project Enlist, which encourages members of the military community to make the pledge to accelerate critical research on TBI, CTE and PTSD in military servicemembers. Veterans like retired Navy SEAL Jason Redman have answered the call, with 461 pledging to donate their brain to research at the Veterans Affairs-Boston University-CLF (VA-BU-CLF) Brain Bank in 2019, nearly doubling the number of military pledges in the decade-old registry in just one year.
In 2019, a record 635 women, led by FIFA Player of the Century and US Women’s National Team icon Michelle Akers, made the pledge. They join Olympians Elana Meyers Taylor, Angela Ruggiero, Hayley Wickenheiser, Brandi Chastain, Cindy Parlow Cone and Nancy Hogshead-Makar. Female athletes remain a focus of the registry, and the recruiting effort is paying off, with the number of female brains donated to the brain bank post-mortem more than doubling since 2018.
“Concussion and CTE research are most commonly associated with football, but there is an urgent need for research on historically overlooked populations, like women and military veterans,” said Chris Nowinski, Ph.D., Concussion Legacy Foundation co-founder and CEO. “We invite all exposed to brain trauma in sports, military, or civilian life, as well as controls who care about them, to pledge at PledgeMyBrain.org.”
The CLF research registry is no longer solely focused on brain donation, and members are now recruited to participate in clinical research studies. Last year, among other studies, registry members were recruited to a study on brain inflammation at Johns Hopkins University, and female soccer players were recruited to participate in the S.H.I.N.E. study at Boston University School of Medicine, the first study investigating the long-term neurological effects of playing soccer in female professional American soccer players.
CLF is the outreach and recruiting arm of the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, the world’s largest CTE brain bank with subspecialties in concussion, ALS, and other consequences of brain trauma. Led by Dr. Ann McKee, the Brain Bank has now collected 834 donated brains. Of those, 270 were donated by families of former NFL players, and one-third of all former NFL players who died in recent years had their brain donated to the Brain Bank. 326 of the donated brains played either college or high school football. More than 100 brains are from people who were 34 years old or younger.
More than 6,000 former athletes and military servicemembers have pledged to donate their brain to CLF. Last year, 354 made the pledge during Brain Pledge Month. The goal for 2020 is 500 new pledges. Everyone who pledges their brain to CLF receives a personalized brain donor card and an informational packet about the brain donation process. Those who are interested can sign-up at PledgeMyBrain.org.