Riders are invited to donate their brains to help form a greater understanding the long-term effects of concussion in sport.
The International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation (ICHIRF), led by Dr Michael Turner, is exploring whether repeated head trauma leads to neurological problems later in life (news, 28 January, 2016).
The project involves in-depth screening of jockeys, riders and other athletes who have had concussion, comparing their results to control subjects.
Dr Turner told H&H the next stage is to look at whether concussion can lead to the neurodegenerative disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE can only be diagnosed after death, when the brain can be examined for evidence. This is where the brain donation scheme comes into play.
“It sounds very gory but when you talk to friends, most are organ donors and have already come to the conclusion that they are happy to give up their organs to somebody else to save their life,” he said.
“We don’t need the brain to be active. We’re happy to wait until you’ve finished with it.”
Dr Turner explained that those donating their brains must be involved in the screening process, although those who are screened as part of the concussion project do not have to sign up to donate their brains.
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ICHIRF is looking for controls and those who have been concussed for brain donations, as well as more people, preferably aged over 50 to sign up for the screening process, which is free for participants.
The brain donation scheme is organised alongside the Queen’s Square Brain Bank at the UCL Institute of Neurology. Each brain examination will cost £5,000 and ICHIRF is looking for more sponsors of scheme.
For more information visit www.concussioninsport.org
For further information about the brain donation scheme and the ICHIRF project, including comments from Richard Pitman and Bob Champion, don’t miss this week’s H&H magazine, out on Thursday (31 May)