Work being done now by medical professionals and organizations on concussion research won't "cure" the problem in the short-term, and real in-roads will depend on future research. Toward those ends, having samples which have undergone repeated head trauma are invaluable - and WWE Hall of Famer Kevin Nash has made the decision to give them one more.
Nash told ESPN that he's made the decision to donate his brain and spine to Chris Nowinski's Concussion Legacy Foundation and Boston University's CTE Center. He's discussed it with his family, and made the necessary legal arrangements to ensure it happens.
The 56 year old says the decision is based on the concussions he's suffered throughout his career and the effects they're already having on his life:
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.
I decided to go ahead. The only way you can diagnose this is after you're dead.
While he has undergone some testing to see what effect the "easy, easy double figures" concussions have had, Nash said doctors have identified some brain abnormalities but no shrinkage. A full examination after his death will be more helpful in identifying what role trauma played in the symptoms he's experiencing, which in addition to memory issues include emotional swings.
Nowinski, a WWE partner, says that not only is Nash's decision key, but the open manner in which he's doing it is important:
It's so powerful when icons like Kevin Nash are willing to pledge their brain for research and talk about it publicly.
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.
The culture of sports will be difficult to change, but statements like Daniel Bryan's retirement and Nash's announcement here are crucial to any hope of it happening:
I've woken up in the ring and like said to myself, "Why am I in this building full of people?" Several times. Yes, several times.
You'd flash and just wake up and are so disoriented and then you come back and you're nauseous and you have a headache and you have a headache and you can't focus on the TV. But you just think, the old school is that you got your bell rung.
No, dude, your brain got slammed against your skull.
Though he says he was always aware of the risks when he decided to play football as a kid and then when he entered pro wrestling, his efforts may mean that fewer men and women have to deal with CTE and other brain/spine issues in the future.
Kudos, Big Sexy.