While professional wrestling has entertained fans at home and stadiums for decades, we rarely ever see the dark side of injuries. Pro-wrestling, like many other contact sports, has had its share of performers who have experienced long-term effects of head injuries.
Last month we saw the retirement of beloved superstar Daniel Bryan, who said during his retirement speech that he was never again lacing up his boots because he “took a test which said maybe [his] brain wasn’t as okay as [he] thought he was.”
But the industry seems to be slowly but surely learning from its past mistakes of letting concussions go untreated. Former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Superstar Kevin Nash, most popularly known as Diesel, told ESPN.com recently that he will donate his brain and spinal cord to the CTE Center at Boston University and the Concussion Legacy Foundation after his death.
“[Former WWE Superstar] Chris Nowinski started the program, and I’ve had several concussions throughout my life and had scans done and stuff and knew that somewhere down the line, I’ve already had short-term memory problems,” Nash, 56, said. “I decided to go ahead. The only way you can diagnose this is after you’re dead.”
The center is co-founded by Nowinski and Dr. Robert Cantu and it is “at the forefront of research on repetitive head injuries.” According to Bleacher Report, the center’s “researchers have identified dozens of deceased former NFL players and former sports entertainers as having suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE”, which is “a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to repeated head trauma.”
Nash told ESPN that he made the decision six or seven years ago and that he has been working with the center at Boston University.
He also said that scans of his brains have shown abnormalities but that there has been no evidence of brain shrinkage.
Meanwhile, Nowinski told ESPN “It’s so powerful when icons like Kevin Nash are willing to pledge their brain for research and talk about it publicly.” He added, “Brain donation is really driving our growing knowledge of CTE and the long-term effects of brain trauma. And so I’m hoping that we solve this problem before Kevin’s time comes, but Kevin announcing this means that other families are aware that this research is important and that if they lose somebody, they may think of the concussion legacy foundation.”
Nash’s move, along with Danielson’s high-profile retirement, is just one simple but meaningful way of bringing to the public’s attention the importance of treating head injuries of those involved in contact sports.