Sports Science Alert (SSA) #016
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Donating Your Body To Science
Last week it was announced that Super Bowl winners Sidney Rice and Steve Weatherford will donate their brains for medical research following their deaths. They joined a list of NFL players who wish to support research into concussions and hope that by studying the brains of ex-players scientists can further understand the effect of concussions on brain injuries, which can be of help to future generations of players. Hopefully for them they will not have to donate them too soon.
The recent high publicity of the risks of repetitive head trauma in football has also led 24 year old Chris Borland from the 49ers to announce his retirement citing the long term effects football can have on his brain. Players' brains are worth preserving, they are not all jocks, and one example is John Urschel, an offensive linesman for the NFL Baltimore Ravens, who has just published an article in a maths journal.
Would you donate your body to science? When I was studying anatomy at university (many years ago) I spent time dissecting donated cadavers, which was invaluable to learn the intricacy and variability of the human body. At the time, with the thought of students cutting me up into pieces after my demise, I was against donating my body. I don't care so much now, and would happily offer my body if it is deemed useful. Much of the human body is still a mystery, so much can still be learned by scientific investigations of them.
It is not just the brains of elite athletes that can be useful to science. For example dissecting the muscles, joints, and other tissues of successful athletes can answer lots of questions about why they succeeded while most did not. I never made it to being an elite athlete, but maybe looking closely at my body they may find clues to why I was susceptible to so many injuries that curtailed my sporting goals.