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Ravens center Matt Birk wants to help the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTSE) at the Boston University School of Medicine by joining the CTSE Brain Donation Registry.
Birk is part of a group that also includes Arizona Cardinals special teams standout Sean Morey and Seattle Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu.
They will donate their brains and spinal cord tissue so researchers can better understand the effects of trauma on the brain and spinal cord.
“The science is clear that CTSE is a threat to the health and well-being of all contact sports athletes,” Birk said. “I would like to do my part to raise awareness and help the research advance toward treatment and an eventual cure.”
The trio is the first group of active players to join the registry that also had a list of 150 former athletes, including 40 retired NFL players. There athletes will be interviewed annually throughout their lives, and upon death, their brain tissue will be examined.
Robert Cantu, MD, a leading sports concussion expert and clinical professor of neurosurgery at BUSM said, “CTE is the only fully preventable cause of dementia. By studying large numbers of athletes throughout their lives, as well as examining brain tissue through our expanding CSTE brain bank, we will be able to determine the specific risk factors for CTE and potentially develop effective treatments.
“The research will foster education and allow meaningful guidelines to be implemented at all levels of athletic participation.”
Birk, a six-time Pro Bowler, is also making a financial contribution to the non-profit Sports Legacy Institute, while hosting a free clinic on concussions for local youth and high school football coaches in the coming months.
“I consider my financial donation to be an investment in my future, the future of my friends that have played football with me, and the future of all of those children playing the game today,” Birk said.