Former WWE, WCW and TNA pro wrestler Kevin Nash has announced that he will donate this brain and spinal cord to CTE research when he eventually passes away.
Nash, who became popular under the ring-name “Diesel,” told ESPN this week that he wants the CTE Center at Boston University and the Concussion Legacy Foundation to examine his brain when he dies to determine whether he suffered from CTE.
“[Ex pro wrestler] 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 said. “I decided to go ahead. The only way you can diagnose this is after you’re dead.”
“I went ahead and gave my spinal cord and my brain to the study, and I carry a card in my wallet that my brain and spine goes to them. It’s in my will. Of course, my wife’s aware of it.”
The 56-year old Nash wrestled during a time when concussions were barely considered a concern, and hard shots to the head were the norm. The business had a mentality of “suck it up” and “go on with the show,” regardless of injury. Nash says he is already experiencing short-term memory loss and has grown more emotional in recent years. He has no idea the number of concussions he may have suffered in his career, but estimates that the number is “easy, easy double figures.”
“I’ve woken up in the ring and like said to myself, ‘Why am I in this building full of people,'” Nash said.
The WWE has made massive changes to their rules and health policies in the last decade or so. Shots to the head are now banned, as are many wrestling moves that put the head or neck in danger of injury. Nash says that the WWE has “embraced the research” and has some of the best concussion protocol around, including the major North American professional sports.
CTE has become a major concern for all athletes, as there have been numerous cases of former pro athletes acting violently or taking their own life when their careers are over. Former WWE world champion Chris Benoit, known for his aggressive style of wrestling, infamously (and tragically) killed his wife and son before taking his own life in 2007. His brain was studied Julian Bailes, the head of neurosurgery at West Virginia University, and results showed that “Benoit’s brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient.”