Legendary women’s hockey player and longtime captain of Canada’s national team Hayley Wickenheiser has announced that she’ll donate her brain to scientific research after she passes away.
In an article for CBC Sports, Wickenheiser says bluntly:
“I donated my brain for research. You should too.”
Wickenheiser recalls a hit that she took while playing professional men’s hockey in Sweden back in 2008. She remembers just how badly it rocked her and how difficult it was for her just to get back to feeling normal.
I could feel the energy, the air change, I could sense that I was about to get hit by a train. I felt I had to take the hit and show I could handle it. What I didn’t anticipate was how much force was coming. The opposing player ran me from about 15 feet and hit me “Sidney Crosby” style with a rotational force that was so hard I actually ended up with an avulsion fracture in my neck, meaning a piece of my vertebrae was broken off, though I wouldn’t find this out until much later. I almost blacked out, but luckily I was near the bench and our trainer opened the door and picked me up by my pants and sat me down. I was in big trouble and I knew it: nauseous, headache, confused, memory issues, off balance - the list of symptoms went on and on.
But I finished the game.
It was this hit, and this experience that led Wickenheiser to start taking concussions and CTE more seriously. With today’s announcement, she’s committed to helping the Concussion Legacy Foundation learn more about brain injuries and the effects that they have on people’s mental and physical health.
don’t want athletes to suffer if we can help it. Female athletes have a higher risk of concussion and slower recovery time than male athletes. There are few professional female athletes in contact sports to study, and even fewer who have donated their brains to the cause. I hope this inspires more to do the same.
Kudos to you, Hayley! Even with your playing days now behind you, you continue to find a way to inspire others through your actions. You are truly one of the greatest leaders in hockey history.