NRL star James Graham to donate his BRAIN to science in order to help research into concussion

30 Jun

NRL star James Graham has revealed he will donate his brain to science in a bid to help further research into concussion.

He becomes the first current rugby league player to donate his brain – joining the likes of legends Peter Sterling and Mark Carroll in donating theirs.

Graham says he wants to help the study on the impacts concussion has on rugby league players
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This comes after a study at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, New South Wales’ Health Pathology and the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre examined the brains of two middle-aged dead former rugby league players, both of who played over 150 first grade games.

That study discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) on the brains of the former players — a disease linked to repeated head trauma and widely associated with the NFL.

In an interview with Fox Sports Australia, Graham, who plays for St George Illawarra Dragons in Australia said he’s determined to help scientists and rugby navigate the “very tricky and complex situation” of concussion.

He said: “I sent my papers off on Wednesday (to donate my brain) so I guess when I die my brain and spinal cord, if I’m in Sydney, will be going to the Sydney University for them to look at, examine and hopefully some good can come of this.

“It was a personal decision to be honest.

“I think when you’re dead you’re dead so I don’t know if there is an afterlife or whatever it may be, but I won’t be going there with a brain.

“Your next of kin has to sign the papers so it was a conversation that came up, but my wife was happy to sign.”

Prop Graham has also put himself forward to do tests for the rest of his rugby league career to see how things change after any potential concussions.

He added: “I’ve been on the receiving end of some concussions and head traumas, so I’m trying to arm myself with as much information as possible.

“I want to be proactive rather than sit there at 70 or 80 and wonder how I am in this situation and why can’t I remember things.

“I have been in touch with people at the Monash Trauma Group and I am about to undergo a couple of tests there.”

Graham has been an advocate for studying the effects of concussion in his own experiences in rugby league and wants to be part of the solution.

Graham said: “It is about getting a baseline and seeing if things change over time and after injuries if there is another concussion and we repeat the tests and see how the results vary or if they vary at all.

“There is an MRI test which connects the brain regions and an eye test looking at brain circuits and there is a neuropsychological test looking at cognitive and emotional responses.

“The goal is to keep doing these tests in the future and see if there is a change.

“There are other choices I make outside of rugby league and based upon those results that might change me in terms of substance abuse and whether I continue to play sport etc.

“Whether I can get some medication to help with those things I’m not too sure, but I’m looking forward to finding out the answers.”

The Dragons’ enforcer then paid tribute to all the other players that have been willing to donate their brains to science.

He said: “It’s great to see people like Peter Sterling donating his brain and I think the more players of all codes can sign up, it can only lead to more research being done and figuring out the answers of what is a very tricky and complex situation.

“Now that it’s out there, now that it’s confirmed they’ve found CTE in some former NRL players, it brings the talk about concussion back to the table.

“I’m really pleased to see the game is taking it seriously and I’m really interested to see the next step we take as a game.”