Rugby World Cup winner Steve Thompson, who was identified with dementia aged 42, will donate his mind to scientists researching mind trauma.
The Concussion Legacy Challenge will use his mind to analysis power traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which may solely be identified after demise.
Thompson mentioned he was pledging his mind “to make the sport safer”.
He added: “I am pledging my mind so the youngsters of the folks I like do not should undergo what I’ve gone by.
“It is as much as my technology to pledge our brains so researchers can develop higher remedies and methods to make the sport safer.”
The Concussion Legacy Challenge is a brand new mind financial institution fashioned by the Concussion Legacy Basis UK (CLF) and the Jeff Astle Basis, named after the former England and West Brom striker who died in 2002. A re-examination of Astle’s mind in 2014 discovered he had died from CTE.
Astle’s daughter Daybreak mentioned: “It could be a few years earlier than this jigsaw is full, however by including each bit, separately, it’s the solely method we will perceive the true image and so be capable of make a greater future for others.”
‘It did not take lengthy to resolve’ – Thompson
Thompson performed in each match in England’s successful 2003 World Cup marketing campaign however informed the BBC in December 2020 that he cannot remember any of them, and put the reminiscence loss right down to frequent head knocks throughout video games and coaching.
In July, World Rugby set out a six-point player welfare plan which incorporates help for ex-players and on Wednesday the worldwide governing physique introduced tips limiting full-contact training to 15 minutes per week in an try to stop accidents.
Addressing the change, Thompson known as for contact to be taken out of the sport for youngsters and added: “We’re stepping into the proper path however there may be nonetheless loads of work to do to verify the gamers are protected.”
Former hooker Thompson performed 195 occasions for Northampton Saints earlier than shifting to France to play for Brive. He gained 73 England caps, and three for the British and Irish Lions, in a nine-year worldwide profession.
He first retired in 2007 due to a critical neck harm however was given the all-clear to return, earlier than being pressured to retire once more in December 2011 with the identical drawback.
Earlier than talking out in 2020, Thompson was identified by neurologists at King’s Faculty, London, with early-onset dementia and possible CTE.
Thompson says it didn’t take lengthy for him and his spouse Steph to resolve to donate his mind.
“Once I had the prognosis I used to be everywhere and my household was everywhere,” he defined.
“I got here throughout Daybreak and [executive director of CLF UK] Dr Adam [White] they usually put all the things in place.
“They made me really feel like I wasn’t alone. When it got here to it, it is simply whose fingers do you set that mind into.”
‘We intention to cease CTE by 2040’
Dr Gabriele DeLuca, who will lead the brand new mind financial institution, mentioned mind donation would assist “develop tailor-made interventions and coverings” to stop the “devastating penalties” of CTE.
Researchers will search to discover ways to deal with frequent signs of CTE, together with issues with considering, reminiscence, temper and sleep.
Dr Adam White, govt director of CLF UK, mentioned the organisation goals “to cease all new instances of CTE within the subsequent 5 years and have a treatment by 2040”.
CLF UK is encouraging athletes and army veterans to donate their brains to CTE analysis.
CTE is the illness found by Dr Bennet Omalu in American soccer participant Mike Webster, and the topic of the movie Concussion starring Will Smith. In 2011, a bunch of former American soccer gamers began a category motion towards the NFL and gained a settlement value about $1bn.
CTE can develop when the mind is subjected to quite a few small blows or fast actions – typically often known as sub-concussions – and is related to signs reminiscent of reminiscence loss, despair and progressive dementia.
Sub-concussions can’t be detected on the pitch or in any post-match examination.
The illness can solely be identified in a mind after demise, however some specialists imagine if historical past of publicity is evaluated, it’s cheap to conclude that the danger will increase.
It has been discovered within the brains of dozens of former NFL gamers, in addition to a handful of deceased footballers.
Extra details about dementia and particulars of organisations that may assist can be found here.