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Why Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser Chose to Donate her Brain to Science

Why Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser Chose to Donate her Brain to Science

Called one of the best female hockey players in the world, Hayley Wickenheiser is a titan of sport. Part of the Canadian Women’s National Team since age 15, she has won seven world championships and made six Olympic appearances, coming home with five Olympic medals.

In January 2017, she announced her retirement from hockey to pursue a career in medicine with hopes of working in emergency trauma. Having always been fascinated in the field, she recently spoke with CBC on her decision to donate her brain for medical research. She said:

“I don’t want athletes to suffer if we can help it. Female athletes have a higher risk of concussion and slower recovery time than male athletes. There are few professional female athletes in contact sports to study, and even fewer who have donated their brains to the cause. I hope this inspires more to do the same.”

Although she has never formally been diagnosed with a concussion, she knows that she has suffered the symptoms and is one of the lucky ones who recovered on her own with no obvious ill effects.

Hayley wants to prevent future athletes, especially female athletes, from suffering the same way by helping to further research into brain health. This comes after several young athletes have passed away recently from severe brain trauma, including her good friend hockey player Steve Montador. He played 12 NHL seasons and died from degenerative brain disease directly tied to injuries sustained while playing hockey.

From the article, she says:

I’m currently studying medicine with aspirations to work in emergency trauma. I have always been fascinated with the workings of the human body. We know a lot, but there is so much still to learn. I believe in research, I believe in science and I believe we can do much better when it comes to educating the next generation about how important it is to protect the brain.

I believe that leadership at its best comes in the form of action. We need more concrete action in the area of concussion research. My life in sport inspired me to study medicine. It also compelled me to donate my brain, in the hope that it will inspire and promote more action, so that the future can be better and healthier for those young girls who will come along after I’m gone.

Watch her story in the video below or read the full article here.

Hayley speaks on leadership, team building, succeeding as a woman in a male-dominated industry, and more. Interested in learning more about Hayley and what she can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].

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