NEWS Dragons star James Graham to donate his brain to science


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EXCLUSIVE: Dragons star James Graham to donate his brain to science

June 28, 2019 7:23pm

NRL star James Graham has revealed that he will become the first current rugby league player to donate his brain to science in a bid to help further research into concussion.

Graham joins legends Peter Sterling and Mark Carroll in donating their brains as a groundbreaking study this week revealed the discovery of a brain disease in two former rugby league players.

Researchers from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW Health Pathology and the University of Sydney’s Brain And Mind Centre examined the brains of two middle-aged dead former rugby league players, both of whom played over 150 first grade games.

That study discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) on the brains of the former players — a disease linked to repeated head trauma and widely associated with the NFL.

Graham has told Fox League that he’s determined to help scientists and the game of rugby league navigate the “very tricky and complex

“I sent my papers off on Wednesday (to donate my brain) so I guess when I die my brain and spinal cord, if I’m in Sydney, will be going to the Sydney University for them to look at, examine and hopefully some good can come of this,” Graham said.

“It was a personal decision to be honest.

“I think when you’re dead you’re dead so I don’t know if there is an afterlife or whatever it may be, but I won’t be going there with a brain.

“Your next of kin has to sign the papers so it was a conversation that came up, but my wife was happy to sign.”

Graham has also signed up to do tests throughout the remainder of his rugby league career to see how things change after any potential concussions.

“I’ve been on the receiving end of some concussions and head traumas, so I’m trying to arm myself with as much information as possible,” Graham said.

“I want to be proactive rather than sit there at 70 or 80 and wonder how I am in this situation and why can’t I remember things.

“I have been in touch with people at the Monash Trauma Group and I am about to undergo a couple of tests there.”

Graham has been an advocate for studying the effects of concussion in his own experiences in rugby league and wants to be part of the solution.

“It is about getting a baseline and seeing if things change over time and after injuries if there is another concussion and we repeat the tests and see how the results vary or if they vary at all,” Graham said.

“There is an MRI test which connects the brain regions and an eye test looking at brain circuits and there is a neuropsychological test looking at cognitive and emotional responses.

“The goal is to keep doing these tests in the future and see if there is a change.

“There are other choices I make outside of rugby league and based upon those results that might change me in terms of substance abuse and whether I continue to play sport etc.

“Whether I can get some medication to help with those things I’m not too sure, but I’m looking forward to finding out the answers.”

The Dragons’ enforcer paid tribute to all the other players that have been willing to donate their brains to science.

“It’s great to see people like Peter Sterling donating his brain and I think the more players of all codes can sign up, it can only lead to more research being done and figuring out the answers of what is a very tricky and complex situation.

“Now that it’s out there, now that it’s confirmed they’ve found CTE in some former NRL players, it brings the talk about concussion back to the table.

“I’m really pleased to see the game is taking it seriously and I’m really interested to see the next step we take as a game.”

Earlier this season, Graham took a strong stance on the subject of consussion and said he was happy to accept the dangers of head knocks as part of the game.

“The nature of our sport is that head knocks are part of it,” Graham told NRL 360.

“Sometimes it happens where you get a little glance but you can’t remember the game.

“What’s the alternative, do you take the sport away from me and guys like me?

“What are you left with? Take it away from me, where do I turn to? It’s probably crime.”

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