Veteran brains committed, more needed

In less than four weeks following distribution of the January 2020 American Legion Magazine, no fewer than 333 veteran and military brains have been pledged for research through the Concussion Legacy Foundation. The online portal to pledge one’s brain can be found at www.concussionfoundation.org/programs/project-enlist.

The January magazine cover story, “Wanted: Your Brain,” explored the need for donated brains to advance research to help veterans with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and athletes with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The research, led by Dr. Ann McKee of VA and Boston University, depends on commitments from veterans, former athletes and others to the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, which has studied and influenced changes in football and other sports to reduce concussions and is advancing science regarding brains of those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, as well.

McKee explains her work and the importance of donated brains in the above video, recorded during October interviews for the magazine article at the brain bank attached to the Jamaica Plain campus of the VA Boston Healthcare System.

“Since The American Legion Magazine article was published, the number of weekly brain pledges from members of the military has increased by 16 fold. We have had more military pledges in the last month than we had in the previous year,” said Chris Nowinski, co-founder of Concussion Legacy Foundation and author of “Head Games.”

The former pro wrestler and college football player said the key to prevention and treatment is research, which means brains. “We can never have enough brain pledges, so we hope they continue,” said Nowinski, who battled with the effects of repeated concussions after his wrestling career ended in 2003. “Brain donations are a critical driver of new discoveries about TBI, PTSD and CTE. The more pledges we have, the faster brains are donated, the faster we’ll have better treatments for those suffering.”

The original article is now online,the first in a series titles “Mysteries of the Mind.”