American Chastain to donate brain for CTE research

Thu Mar 3, 2016 12:43pm EST
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By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) - Retired U.S. soccer player Brandi Chastain, who scored the winning goal at the 1999 Women's World Cup, said on Thursday she will donate her brain posthumously to researchers studying the impact of concussions.

Chastain, 47, announced her pledge to the Concussion Legacy Foundation on Thursday and her brain will ultimately go to researchers at Boston University, pioneers in the study of CTE, a degenerative condition linked to head trauma.

"I won't be witness to the results when I donate my brain, and I hope that day is a long way from today, but I'm hoping that my donation helps change things for the positive," Chastain told the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

"I can't even attempt a guess at how many times I've headed the ball. It's a significant number. It's scary to think about all the heading and potential concussions that were never diagnosed in my life, but it's better to know."

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is closely linked with the repeated head injuries commonly experienced in contact sports and can lead to aggression and dementia.

Chastain, who made the last of her 192 appearances with the U.S. national team in 2004, is the latest in a growing list of current and former athletes who have agreed to donate their brains after death.

A high incidence of degenerative brain disease in former professional American football players led thousands of National Football League alumni to press for and win a settlement that could cost the league $1 billion.

Chastain is perhaps best remembered for removing her shirt during a memorable and controversial goal celebration after she scored the winning penalty kick that decided the shootout against China in the 1999 Women's World Cup final.   Continued...

Former soccer player Brandi Chastain plays a bunker shot on the eighth hole during the third round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in Pebble Beach, California, February 14, 2009.   REUTERS/Michael Fiala