Steve Thompson MBE pledges to donate brain to the Concussion Legacy Project, new brain bank partnership backed by The Jeff Astle Foundation and Concussion Legacy Foundation UK
Partnership will advance CTE research in athletes and military Veterans in the United Kingdom
(Oxford, UK) – Rugby World Cup winner and ex-Lion, Steve Thompson MBE announced today he will be the first professional athlete to pledge his brain to the Concussion Legacy Project for research on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and other consequences of brain trauma. The Concussion Legacy Project is a new brain bank formed through a partnership between the Concussion Legacy Foundation UK (CLF UK) and the Jeff Astle Foundation (JAF).
“I’m pledging my brain so the children of the people I love don’t have to go through what I have gone through,” said Steve Thompson, MBE, who was diagnosed with dementia at age 42. “It’s up to my generation to pledge our brains so researchers can develop better treatments and ways to make the game safer.”
“Brain donation is the most valuable gift of all for future generations of footballers,” said Dawn Astle, daughter of Jeff Astle. “It may be many years before this jigsaw is complete, but by adding each piece, one at a time, it is the only way we shall understand the true picture and so be able to make a better future for others. The Jeff Astle Foundation encourages families of athletes and Veterans to donate the brain of their loved one to the Concussion Legacy Project.”
The Concussion Legacy Project will be led by Dr Gabriele DeLuca, Associate Professor in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford and Director of Clinical Neurosciences Undergraduate Education at Oxford Medical School.
"Brain donation will allow us to better understand the complexities of CTE so that we can develop tailored interventions and treatments to prevent its devastating consequences,” said Dr. DeLuca. In the next phase of the collaboration, Dr. DeLuca will lead clinical research efforts aimed at learning how best to treat common CTE-related symptoms, including problems with thinking and memory, mood, and sleep.
To support the Concussion Legacy Project, CLF CEO Dr. Chris Nowinski announced a new international chapter, the Concussion Legacy Foundation UK (CLF UK), under the leadership of executive director Dr. Adam White, Lecturer in Sport & Coaching Sciences at Oxford Brookes University. Dr. White has been leading a global research project to focus on understanding the experiences of families who have lost loved ones to sport-related brain injury.
“We’ve long known about the relationship between sport and CTE, but we urgently need to better understand how CTE affects athletes and Veterans, as well as their families, at every stage of their life,” said Dr. White. “We have reason for hope. CTE usually begins in a person’s teens or twenties, which means we have a lifetime to treat patients, educate people and support their families. We want to stop all new cases of CTE in the next five years and have a cure by 2040.”
“Losing my dad to dementia left so many unanswered questions. The only way we as a family could understand what happened to him after his football career was to donate his brain to research,” said Rachel Walden, Trustee of The Jeff Astle Foundation and daughter of Rod Taylor. “Knowing Dad died of CTE and Dementia with Lewy Bodies has driven me to work with Dawn Astle and The Jeff Astle Foundation and today I'm delighted we are able to join forces with Concussion Legacy Foundation UK and support the Concussion Legacy Project.”
CLF UK encourages all athletes and military Veterans to pledge to donate their brains to CTE research at PledgeMyBrain.org.
CLF UK has created a 24-hour brain donation hotline for families to call and coordinate brain donations. Family members of athletes and military servicemembers who wish to donate their loved one’s brain can contact the Concussion Legacy Project at 07534 029 223 and UK@concussionfoundation.org.
The Concussion Legacy Project is modeled after the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, a collaboration between the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Boston University, and CLF. This partnership has created the world’s leading CTE research program and has led to more than 1,000 brains donated 600 cases of CTE diagnosed, which comprises about 80% of the world’s confirmed cases.
The Concussion Legacy Project is part of the CLF Global Brain Bank, which links the leading CTE brain banks and researchers in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, and the US. The members use common methods, share data, and work collaboratively on discoveries to accelerate global coordination of research.
About the Concussion Legacy Foundation:
The Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) is an international charity operating in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. CLF was founded in 2007 by Robert Cantu, MD, and Chris Nowinski, PhD, to support athletes, Veterans and all affected by concussions and CTE; achieve smarter sports and safer athletes through education and innovation; and to End CTE through prevention and research. For more information, please visit ConcussionFoundation.org.
About the Jeff Astle Foundation:
The Jeff Astle Foundation was launched by the Astle family in 2015 to raise awareness of brain injury in sport at all levels of the game, to work with sports authorities to deliver independent research into the links between brain injury in sport and degenerative brain disease, and to provide support for sports people living with the effects of dementia or chronic neurological impairment.
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