Lawmaker pledges to donate his brain for TBI research

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After listening to several former NFL players testify about the effects and risks of traumatic brain injury, one member of the House of Representatives says he will donate his brain for concussion research.

Rep. David Cicilline from Rhode Island, who used to play football earlier in his life, says he has pledged to donate his brain after his death to aid researchers in studying the long-term effects of repetitive brain injury.

His announcement came Friday, during a forum on the effects of brain injury. During the panel, researchers from Boston University presented the findings of a recent study which found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the vast majority of the brains – 110 out of 111 – evaluated during autopsies.

Former NFL players also spoke about how concussions and CTE have affected their lives.

During the forum, Cicilline asked the panel of experts how Congress could help. This prompted the head of the Concussion Legacy Foundation to ask whether he’d be willing to donate his own brain for research.

“After I’m dead. Not today. Absolutely,” responded Cicilline.

The lawmaker later made it clear he wasn’t kidding around while speaking with the Providence Journal.

“I had to call my mother to let her know,” he said.

“Just listening to the testimony and listening to what a serious issue this is and what the implications are for players, both young people and players who play in high school. If I can help in some small way by contributing to the research … and make it so that parents and young people have better information about what the impact is of head trauma in contact sports, then I am happy to do it.”

Cicilline is the first lawmaker to publicly pledge his brain to research, but he joins a growing wave of professional athletes willing to have their brains evaluated after their death to help provide a better understanding of traumatic brain injury and CTE.

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