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Sports Team Canada's Erin Ambrose donating brain for concussion research

02:45  02 december  2020
02:45  02 december  2020 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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Canada Brain Research Fund. About the CBRF. Brain Canada initially committed to raising 0 million over six years from private and non-governmental sources which is being matched by the Government of Canada 2020 Turnbull-Tator Award in Spinal Cord Injury and Concussion Research .

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Having suffered four documented concussions during her hockey career, combined with battling anxiety and depression for more than a decade, Erin Ambrose didn’t hesitate when asked recently to donate her brain for medical research.

a group of hockey players on the field: Les Canadiennes' Erin Ambrose goes down to block a Markham Thunder shot in front of Thunder's Nicole Kosta and Montreal goalie Emerance Maschmeyer during Canadian Women's Hockey League playoff game in Montreal on March 16, 2018. © Provided by The Gazette Les Canadiennes' Erin Ambrose goes down to block a Markham Thunder shot in front of Thunder's Nicole Kosta and Montreal goalie Emerance Maschmeyer during Canadian Women's Hockey League playoff game in Montreal on March 16, 2018.

“We only have one brain, right,” said Ambrose, a blueliner with Canada’s national women’s team and former member of Les Canadiennes de Montréal. “It’s the most important thing for sure.”

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3 female Olympians have announced that they are joining the fight to end concussions in sports by donating their brains to science.

The Canada Brain Research Fund is an innovative partnership between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada ) and Brain Canada , designed to encourage Canadians to increase their support of brain research , and maximize the impact and efficiency of those investments.

The Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada (CLFC) announced Ambrose’s decision on Tuesday. The 26-year-old native of Keswick, Ont., will join other prominent female athletes — including Hayley Wickenheiser , Brandi Chastain and Angela Ruggerio — who have pledged to donate their brains.

Led by Dr. Ann McKee, the director of Boston University’s CTE Center, the Brain Bank has collected 834 brains. But only 19 come from women, a number the specialists want to see drastically increase.

Research has demonstrated a higher risk of injury and a more negative prognosis in females, not only affecting athletes, but those in the military, first responders and domestic-violence victims. Wednesday is Women’s Brain Health Day.

More emphasis is being placed on closing that gender gap, according to Adrienne Crampton, the CLFC’s director of innovation.

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The two-time Daytona 500 champion tweeted that he will follow some NFL players in donating his brain for research . SUBSCRIBE to ABC NEWS

The brain bank bills itself as “the largest tissue repository in the world focused on traumatic brain injury” and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), and contains Two crashes, one in which she broke her arm in October and another in which she sustained a concussion in December, seemed to take

“Lots of studies have focused on male brains,” said Crampton, who spent five seasons playing university hockey at McGill and saw her career end in 2015 after suffering her fifth, and final, concussion. “Promoting female brains will help bridge that gap and help develop treatment strategies.”

Ambrose suffered two concussions while attending Clarkson University. She also sustained one while playing minor hockey in Toronto, where she met Crampton, and the last while with Les Canadiennes.

Marie-Philip Poulin standing in front of a cake:  Les Canadiennes’ Erin Ambrose, right, and teammate Marie-Philip Poulin with their Canadian Women’s Hockey League awards on March 22, 2019. Ambrose won the Defenceman of the Year trophy, while Poulin won, from left, the Jayna Hefford trophy for players’ MVP, the league MVP Award and the Angela James bowl as CWHL scoring leader. © Shanna Martin-Book Les Canadiennes’ Erin Ambrose, right, and teammate Marie-Philip Poulin with their Canadian Women’s Hockey League awards on March 22, 2019. Ambrose won the Defenceman of the Year trophy, while Poulin won, from left, the Jayna Hefford trophy for players’ MVP, the league MVP Award and the Angela James bowl as CWHL scoring leader.

While women’s hockey prohibits checking, that doesn’t mean body contact doesn’t exist, leading to the potential of head injuries.

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In an interview with The Players' Tribune, Warren Sapp said he'll donate his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation for research . Sapp has made up his mind. He said he was inspired to donate his brain after an email from former NFL running back Fred Willis that included quotes from NFL owners.

“We all knew this was a possibility when we signed up to play,” said Ambrose, an assistant coach with Concordia’s women’s hockey team. “It’s part of the game.”

Although Ambrose hasn’t suffered from headaches, memory loss or other lingering issues, and has recovered quickly from each episode, she understands her quality of life could be compromised in the future. Nonetheless, she continues training with the national team while being cognizant of the potential risks.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” she said. “I know that’s not the case for a lot of people. This definitely isn’t something you can take lightly.

“There’s definitely concern,” Ambrose added. “I understand it’s a possibility there could be some consequences down the road. It’s insane to see so few female athletes contribute to this. It’s super important.”

Crampton, one of two women on the CLFC management team, is submitting her PhD thesis this week on concussions. She’s well aware of the link between concussions and mental health challenges.

Her road to recovery was long and arduous. She continues undergoing periodic rehabilitation and has been forced to make some life changes. While Crampton, 27, remains physically active, she must avoid contact. She, too, previously decided to donate her brain.

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“It was very challenging,” Crampton said of her recovery. “I’d definitely say it was the hardest thing I’ve done. It has taken multiple years along with complete changes in my lifestyle.”

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Crampton was advised by doctors the danger of suffering another concussion, while being urged to end her competitive sports career and shunning high-risk activities.

“It’s definitely a big change that took quite a few years to get used to,” she said.

Former Alouettes defensive-lineman Tim Fleiszer , the CLFC founder and executive director, said women tend to report concussions more often and are more vulnerable than men, while taking longer to recover.

“We know pretty clearly there’s differences in the way the brain functions between the genders,” said Fleiszer, a former first overall Hamilton Tiger-Cats draft choice who played for five CFL teams over 10 seasons.

“I’m shocked so little has been done on women’s brains in sports and the military side.”

Fleiszer, 45, suffered the first of his three diagnosed concussions while at Harvard University. He also agreed to donate his brain.

Brain donation is considered crucial to understanding neurodegenerative diseases associated with repetitive head impacts, such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy . Symptoms include thinking and memory problems, personality and behavioural changes, including aggression and depression. It also can be associated with dementia.

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